Morning

27/10/2002
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At 7.15 traffic in and out El-Khader's western junction and movement of pedestrians in and out of the road blocks appeared uninterrupted, with no signs of IDF presence. We therefore drove to Etzion checkpoint. One can now access the road that leads to Beit Fajar through a newly paved, approximately 200 meter long 'service road'. The watch post has been moved to the middle of the junction (more strategic position). Soldiers staffing the checkpoint stopped a bus and forced some of the passengers to climb down. An ID check now began. When one soldier asked to see people's permits we remarked that this is an internal journey within the confined boundaries of the southern West Bank, not an excursion to Israel proper. After no more than two minutes, the search was stopped and the men were allowed to go back on the bus. Back at al-Khader's, we encountered the reserve soldiers that arrived there during our absence. Hussein Najajra the headmaster of the school is extremely troubled lately by one particular settler, known by the name of Hanania, who is a resident of Neve Daniel (or Elazar) settlement who recently extended his "ranch" to a hill site that borders on 'Ali's ( the English teacher) family fields. Hanania is a brute: he cut the four wheels of a tractor belonging to Ali's cousin, threatened to kill his sheep, and bullies children who go to work in the field. We were then escorted by Najajra and staff, who reiterated the major difficulties faced by the school as a result of the physical blocking imposed on the compound. The problem is not only the hardship encountered by the children and stuff, but mainly, the fact that the school compound is not accessible to any vehicle whatsoever. They also complained over and over again about the destruction by the IDF of the original wall that surrounded the school compound, which left the building completely exposed to army attacks. We later moved on to the main Bethlehem checkpoint (300), which we found almost deserted.