Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Tue 18.12.07, Afternoon

Rina H., Chana G., Julia W., Rahel W. (reporting)

We went first to the Zeitun crossing where there were a few more people than we usually find at this time.  We aproached a man with his wife and three very young children.  The wife (who had a blue i.d.) and the children were heading toward the Palestinian side.  The man, who has a green i.d. (and was on the Israeli side) could not go through because his permit had expired.  He has been trying, unsuccessfully for months to get it renewed but was told that they are not doing any renewals.  He wanted to visit his father during the holiday, but could not go through the checkpoint with an expired permit.  He said that he works in Jerusalem and has worked at the same place for years.  His boss keeps him on even without the permit because he knows him and trusts him and he works well.   Meanwhile, he is unable to visit his family on the other side.Wadi Naar. 

There was a lot of traffic, probably because of the holiday and also, very few workers crossing through for the same reason. 

Many of the vehicles passing through were private cars and several of these were singled out for long, meticulous inspection such as we have never seen in the past.  The vehicle doors were opened, and the padding on them was inspected; the motor was checked against the information on the registration; everything in the trunk was removed and the area thoroughly checked.  These inspections took up to 20 minutes.  The inspecting border policeman related to each person as if he were a potential terrorist.   A second border policeman did not engage in the inspections but was continually barking at people to get back into the car. 

In all cases, there were young children in the back seats of the vehicles who were probably scared out of their minds at what was happening.

In the midst of one of these inspections, the inspector spotted a car coming the wrong way up the road leading to the checkpoint.  It was the car of a physician who started to get out of the car to explain himself.  The inspector screamed at him to get back into the car and turn around.  He wasn't interested in any explanations or ameliorating circumstances.  The ruler and the ruled -- end of story.

Azariah was bursting at the seams with people doing their shopping for the holiday.  There was a festive atmosphere, with no presence of border police or flying checkpoints (while we were there).