A-Tur, A-Za'yem, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal)
The large gates and their keepers in the area between metropolitan Jerusalem and its neighbourhoods to the north, south and east.
Extensive changes, which the imagination can hardly grasp, have occurred in the lives of people and in the landscape. Numerous roads -- for the citizens of Israel, for Palestinians, for security vehicles, roads going nowhere -- scar the hills, and fragment whatever remains of nature, along with quietly expelling the Bedouin tribes that used to roam around Jerusalem. Vast walls separate families and neighbourhoods, disrupting work, education, services, worship and hospitals.
This is where the money continues to be buried, in case anyone is looking.
On a chilly morning in Olive Terminal a group of policemen on duty precedes us, armed and equipped, but not disturbing the flow of people. The lines are lively, fairly long and moving at the rate of 15-20 minutes of waiting. The toilets, as usual, are locked and stench is in the air. Many colourful boys and girls are rushing to school, from the very young to teenagers, chattering until they reach the fences and turnstiles.
We drove to the gate leading to Az-za'ayyem east of A-Tur, between Jerusalem and A-Tur. Two weeks ago the army reported a stabbing attempt by a youth from the village who came to the checkpoint joining the village to the road to Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim. You can read of the event, with photos of the demonstration and commentary here:
We reached the open gate; according to the soldier there it's open nowadays for about 2 hours, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. He inquired who we were and why we were there. When we crossed, a different spectacle was revealed on the other side of the wall: a broad empty road, and a wall bordering it covered with stone-like material, as if bordering on housed. But in fact it borders on nothing. We drove on, passed a large border-police van, parked across the road; it turned towards us and its passengers asked us to go no further. Since there was no traffic of either vehicles or persons, we turned back and have not yet solved the mystery of what happens further along this road, who benefits from it now or before, and what the border-police are doing there. We returned to the checkpoint, and a nice female soldier checked our documents and announced with great courtesy that they had expired and were no longer legal. Just image how a Palestinian's stomach turns when he discovers that his health and livelihood depend on this piece of paper.
In A-Tur on the watershed between Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives no two days are alike. A week ago they were left to their own devices, running freely to school. This week it seems that security over-rides other considerations, and border-police stand or walk at the junctions and the central garden, and local activists guard the children and complain bitterly. We have no adequate replies to offer, only speculations -- and filming. The children scamper around the soldiers, and buy candy. Roll call begins, and more busloads of children arrive. A normal morning in the shadow of B.P.