Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Tue 8.1.08, Afternoon
En route to Sheikh Said, at the entry to Jebel Mukhaber, there were new signs for Nofi Zion, the new settlement being built ini Jebel Mukhaber. It is obviously expanding well beyond the original area.
Only two border police were evident at Sheikh Said. A few people crossed through in each direction. A Magen David Adom driver was waiting there to pick up some people. He spoke to us about the problems at the checkpoint. Everything, he said, depends upon those who man the checkpoint. If they are decent, it is possible to speak to them. If not, they are totally unyielding -- even in conditions when individuals could suffer serious harm. He mentioned that the Supreme Court decision about Sheikh Said will take place on Wednesday morning, January 23rd at 11:00 and asked that as many of us as possible show up for the hearing.
As we drove along the road below Silwan en route to Abu Dis, we noticed new construction on the hillside below the Moskowitz settlement at Ras el Amud. Considerable expansion is taking place there as well.
We headed up to the Cliff Hotel and noticed a group of about 20 people -- a few adults and many children who were getting a tour by a young man of British background. Unseen, we listened to his enthusiastic talk to the visitors (who were either new immigrants or tourists who might have been potential immigrants). He spoke about how they came by the land, the plans for the future, and how Jewish presence will considerably increase in this area (while bemoaning the overwhelming presence of Arabs in the area). When he saw us, he spoke about how great it would be to have Jews and Arabs living together. When I asked if that meant that we would soon be welcoming Arabs to Rehavia, he immediately changed his tune and said that we were different peoples with different needs and interests. What Arab would want to live in Rehavia? They want to be with their own people. So much for plualism.
Zeitun crossing was almost abandoned. Very few people in either direction.
There was a huge backup of traffic heading into Azariah. It might have been connected to Bush's upcoming visit. There was a border police unit checking traffic heading toward Azariah and Qedar. Why there? Who knows?
By the time we got to Wadi Naar, it was cold, getting dark, and rainy. The border police stationed there quite understandably did not want to be standing outside in such awful conditions. As a result, traffic moved unhampered very quickly in both directions. One bus was stopped and i.d.'s collected, but aside from that, all was quiet and