Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed
7:00 Olive Terminal
Busy traffic of children, some very small, some crossing the checkpoint by themselves. Then they wait for their transportation. To begin with, only one passage is open, then another opens and the line disappears. At the exit to Al Ezariya, a family with a partly paralyzed child in a pram tries to catch the eye of the female soldier in charge of the humanitarian gate -- to no avail.
The soldier is busy with her smart phone and oblivious to rings and calls from the outside. Finally, the sister carries the child in her arms to the turnstile, and somehow the child manages to get through. The mother folds the pram and also crosses. We too cross, and makes a fuss until finally the window opens. The soldier says the intercom is not working today, and that she heard or saw nothing... We meet a woman who works as a chambermaid in a Jerusalem hotel. She has a valid permit and a magnetic card, and does not understand why she was turned back. From a call to the checkpoint commander, Y. (who is not present) it turns out that her biometric finger-print is not as it should be and she's required to go to the DCO which will open between 8:00 and 8:30 (the official hour is 8:00 but it always takes time for them to get organised). She asks us to inform the hotel of what happened. And we ask: why couldn't the soldiers not tell her of the problem and direct her to the solution? Sheer disrespect and negligence!
By the way, Y. is surprised to hear the intercom is not working -- last night it was fine.
From conversations at the checkpoint we hear that there are grave problems on Saturday mornings. Only one checking point is open, almost no soldiers on duty, long lines and much confusion. Can one of our Jerusalem mates go there on a Saturday morning to see what is going on?
The toilets are locked; the transportation personnel say they're opened only in the presence of an officer from the checkpoint -- not clear when. Perhaps someone could be stationed there to prevent vandalism during rush hours. There's a regular cleaner for the outside area on the Al Ezariya side who comes twice a week.
8:00 Education City in A-tur (opposite Mokassad Hospital)
We decided to check out Palestinian complaints on the internet of disturbing presence of a border-policeman near the High Schools. When we arrived, a parked border-police jeep left. We don't think he saw or recognised us. The staff in the nearby college say the border-policeman checks the arriving High School students every morning. (These schools are considered the best in Jerusalem.) We decide that on on our next shift we'll enter and talk to heads and students.