Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Silwan
Massive presence of police and border police in East Jerusalem at all the schools and on street corners. Is it necessary to post so many armed soldiers with weapons drawn on a quiet morning of regular opening of schools and commerce? Are these enforcements, sent two troubled months ago, now looking for employment?
7:00 Sheikh Saed
The checkpoint is still working under the old terms -- crossing through the turnstiles outside the building and checking at the booth below. The soldiers say there were problems with electricity supply. All is calm, people crossing without much bother, and we chat with the high school boys waiting for transportation. Suddenly an armoured jeep arrives and the atmosphere tenses up. The boys are sent off, the checkpoint is encircled even more, and we are watched with antagonism. Someone must have been upset by the tranquility and hurried to replace it with fear. Why?
The American Road, Silwan and Wadi Joz
Many border police vans in Silwan, some of the soldiers standing on the street corner with weapons drawn. When we stop to film, a young man comes up and tells us that the soldiers always stand opposite the school up the road in the Bustan neighbourhood, checking, interrogating, causing problems. There are girls too on their way to school, and residents are anxious about the situation. They ask us to come round occasionally to see what's going on.
Here too we find at least 3 groups of soldiers and vans on the part of the road between the intersection from Wadi Joz and the intersection of Har Ha-zeitim settlement. We arrived late and the children were already in school, so that we didn't see any friction or checks, but it's clear that sooner or later there will be trouble in this large neighbourhood. True, we're on the threshold of Pesach/Easter, but would it not have been smarter to guard the pilgrim trail more reticently, and if there is trouble or stone-throwing, to deal with it accordingly?
Many empty minibuses await those crossing from Al Ezariya. We talk to some of the drivers, one of them a former student at Hebrew University unable to find other employment. The checkpoint is wonderfully quiet, drivers waiting on the other side, complaining about locked toilets. We reply that when opened they were vandalised and are told that it's children who dismantle parts, not those crossing. We suggest the premises be unlocked under their supervision in the mornings and afternoons when the workers cross. They suggested this procedure to the checkpoint commander, and ask us also to act.