Abu Dis, Al-Ezariya, Container (Wadi Nar)
Tuesday AM, 14.6.05
On the way to the Container, at the bottom of the Wadi, at the intersection with the road on which we are traveling, is a roadblock – an earth mound with heaps of various additional objects – barring the descending path from Sawahre, which is paved with pebbles.
Taxis and other vehicles going towards this path, pass nearby the Container checkpoint and possibly there is another exit to the “main” road which is not blocked.
The container – 06:55:
Almost no vehicles or pedestrians in both directions and 4 BP soldiers at the checkpoint. 5 minutes later, Barak, the representative of the DCO arrives and introduces himself.
At 07:10 traffic from Bethlehem and Sawahre is slightly heavier. A few yellow taxis are forced to park on the side, some IDs are checked and returned quickly. A truck loaded with many parcels is demanded to park on the side and one of the BP soldiers goes up to inspect the parcels but then helps the driver to put them back in place. The same goes for a transit carrying hygienic paper merchandise (tissues and the like). A few buses from Hebron to Jericho pass swiftly. A rather large number of private cars go through unhindered, and in one case we saw the driver present a permit. Most of them are probably dignitaries.
07:25: A large number of taxis form the south is accumulating and the BP soldiers allow them to pass all at once in two lanes and no checking. An unusual sight to behold! 07:50: We took the Kedar road and close to the Al-Ezariya exit, a barbed roadblock is stretched with 2 BP soldiers next to it. We turned around back to the Al-Ezariya checkpoint because we saw a long line of vehicles. Now there was no jeep there but 4 soldiers instead (2 of them seated on the side of the road). 9-10 cars at a time were waiting. The passage is swift. A Palestinian greets us warmly from a UN car and compliments us on the annual report he had read about in the Al Kuds newspaper. Suddenly we notice one of the soldiers climbing up the opposite hill and starting to roll stones down the slope onto the road. We tried to make the other soldiers realize the danger but they just shrugged. The soldier on the hill stopped his game and sat down to enjoy the view of the road beneath. Except for one soldier, the badges of all the others were concealed.
08:10: Almost no line of vehicles.
The Pishpash -
08:35: Upon our arrival, we saw 5 BP soldiers coming out of the lane next to the wall. A few taxi drivers told us to hurry to the gas station because there were 40 detainees there, among them the coffee vendor who carries it from the eastern side of the wall to the western side. On our way to the gas station, we received a phone call with identical information from a Fullbright Fund worker who lives very close to the intersection. And indeed we arrived at a scene we have never yet seen since the high wall was built: about 40 Palestinians are sitting along the wall. A BP jeep is next to the electricity pole and on it a huge pile of green IDs (a second jeep soon joined it). We immediately called Eli Gabay who promised to check it out and within two minutes explained that a large number of detainees were due to the fact that the closure had ended only a short while ago and thus many Palestinians had gathered. On top of that, there were alerts from that direction. He also said he had sent reinforcement to speed things up. He called the commander of the unit and the pace of checking IDs was hastened. The reinforcement went up to the Pishpash and came back to the gas station with more people to be checked. It took a long time to fill out the forms and have them signed. We requested to see the forms but were refused on the ground that it was classified material. One of the soldiers told us that the contents of the forms were translated into Arabic by a soldier who speaks the language well (a Druze who behaved rudely). I asked his name since, once more, the badges were hidden. He bent down to the floor of the jeep, picked up his badge and stuck it on his shoulder saying I could file a complaint if I wished. It was obvious that all the detainees, most of them young, were on their way to work, some of them carrying their tools. If they couldn’t pass elsewhere, they would not earn their living today! By 10:00 all the detainees had been released but sent back, of course, to the other side of the gate with the barbed wire spread in front of it. Only one Palestinian was allowed to go through and to board a minibus towards Jerusalem. He had a permit. The two jeeps left and one of them stationed itself next to the gate a little further up the hill. vehicles are barred from traveling on it. In the meantime, the paved road ends in the valley between Sawahre on the east, Jabel Mukaber on the west, and Sheich Said on the southern side. The purpose of the road is to protect the wall (a security road). The purpose of the impressive iron fence on its side is to protect the security road. One cannot but marvel at the promised protection. We saw no military or police around and there is also no sign prohibiting driving on the road. 14:00: We went back via A-Tur and the old city and apart from the almost regular BP at the Dung Gate exit, there is no army or police to be seen.