Rahel M., Avital T. (reporting)


How a little boy gets hit by a brave sniper:  all it takes is for the child to stand quietly in a corner of the wall, waiting for his sister; and some snipers positioned on the roof top of the house opposite.  Why not?

7:00 Anata Checkpoint

We arrived when the children run from the checkpoint to the buses awaiting them on the main road, after crossing through the special gate under the supervision of Sanduka, head of the committee.

A brief reminder: most of the eastern part of the city was annexed to Western Jerusalem after the Six-Day War, and therefore most of the residents of Shuafat refugee camp and the large village of Anata are considered residents of Jerusalem with blue ID's.  Nevertheless, a few years after the second Intifada, the state authorities built a large checkpoint at the entrance to Shuafat, encircled the entire area with a massive grey wall, separating it from bordering neighbourhoods -- French Hill on the south and Pisgat Zeev on the north.

In the late 1960's Frech Hill was built up as an extension of Mount Scopus. A few kilometers north of that the neighbourhood of Neve Ya'akov was built, east of Beit Hanina and abutting on the outer neighbourhoods of A-Ram.  Twenty years later Pisgat Zeev was built to "join" both, leaving Beit Hanina, Shuafat and Anata in the middle.  How to protect the Israeli neighbourhoods from from the neighbours who work for them, travel with them, clean their homes, cook and serve in their restaurants, and build their homes?  By building a grey, snaking, and threatening wall between the different neighbourhoods, to the greater glory of the state and the military budget.

When the High Court "approved" the barrier, despite protests from residents that they are part of the city of Jerusalem, terms were laid down for easing passage.  But no one intends to observe these terms.

A characteristic of the place is the large number of children who arrive daily to be transported to their schools, and the neighbourhood committe who invigilate their safe arrival and departure. And so, even after the opening of the checkpoint due to the committee's pressure, it was agree that the children would board their buses inside the checkpoint, under supervision of the committee, and leave without further checks. After a period of time, the various authorities decided to enlarge the parking lot for buses and surrounded it with an enormous grey wall. And for the time being, because of the slow building and paving work, the children cross through a separate gate and run to the buses parked outside the periphery of the checkpoint. We arrive to watch the children streaming through the turnstile, and ask after Yihiel Al Hamudi, the injured child, and how it all happened. Medically, he still awaits many treatments for an eye implant; emotionally, one can only imagine his state of mind.  He stood by the wall, waiting for his sister, and was shot.  Why? Just because on one of the buildings, near the only entrance to the neighbourhood, snipers were stationed.

At the checkpoint the line is already tranquil, consisting mostly of young people on their way to town.  Crossing takes a few short minutes, but can represent precisely the rage that erupts when one's life is controlled by 19-year-old soldiers and the whims of a turnstile button. With each crossing the gatesinfo-icon are locked.  The person fortunate enough to have crossed  puts down his belongings on the magnometer, and turns to the female soldier with his identifying papers and then continues on his way.  The soldiers chat, answer phone calls, while the next person waits.  Those waiting in line are noticed only when the soldiers are done with their respective private concerns.

When we left, Rachel talked to the commander about the conduct towards those waiting in quiet despair.  By his lights,  their conduct is satisfactory and it all works well -- just as the High Court decreed.

And on the main road of A-tur there is only one shift of border-policemen.  The school gates are closing, the children are inside, they have had a peaceful morning.