Morning

26/01/2003
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Etzion checkpoint around 7.15 AM, total absence of Palestinians - busses, and pedestrians. Asking the soldiers about this absence, it turned out that none of those staffing the post was aware of the change : "what is it, that you are asking about?). However, when we rephrased the question and asked whether the closureinfo-icon regulations have changed, they replied that currently an "election day closure" is being enforced, implying that Palestinians are completely prevented from moving between and within the districts of Hebron and Bethlehem. Beit Omar checkpoint (between there and four kilometers south of Etzion) - no Palestinian busses or cabs coming from the direction of Hebron are allowed to move northbound. However, soldiers there (all reserve) justified this measure by referring to "notices" ("hatraot hamot") regarding an expected terrorist attack, and made no mention of the elections' closure.Southern exit of al-Arroub refugee camp (less than one kilometer to the north of Beit Omar junction), where another (temporary) military checkpoint is currently operating. Next to an old school-bus, some 15 meters away from the two reserve soldiers who staffed the checkpoint, stood a group of approximately 70 high school children (boys and girls). They have been waiting for more than an hour and twenty minutes for the bus to carry them to school in adjacent Beit Omar. The army forbids them from carrying the journey by foot, and does not allow more than one bus to travel on the road at each time. We left when the old school bus (on which no less than 70 children boarded) was finally allowed to leave for Beit Omar and an additional bus arrived.Al-Khader junction - completely deserted, implying that the area is under curfew and that the school is shut down. Checkpoint closest to Teqoa - soldiers recommended that we turn back to the direction of Efrat, since a donkey has just exploded near al-Khader junction, and other roads may be closed.