Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Tue 22.1.08, Afternoon
We went first to Abu Dis. On the way (via A Tur), we noticed an Israeli flag flying on a rather large building near the turn to the Intercontinenal Hotel. We never noticed this before -- obviously yet another property has been quietly taken over by settlers.
Abu Dis is like a ghost town. There was no one coming or going through the old pishpash. Almost no one in the center of the town (most shops are closed), and nothing has changed in the area of the Cliff Hotel except that it gets shoddier from week to week.
We continued on to Sheikh Said where there were a few people going back and forth. The shops there are also closed, having lost their clientel from the Israeli side of the checkpoint. Today, the checkpoint was being manned by border police.
The Zeitun crossing was almost completely deserted. At one point, a guard in the tower shouted down to us to get away -- he was obviously disturbed by our guest taking pictures of the area. There were no taxis or cars waiting to pick up or drop off people.
When we arrived at Wadi Naar, there was a huge line of vehicles stretching as far as the eye could see in both directions. Within seconds of our arrival, the traffic started moving very quickly in both directions, but there was an unusually large number of vehicles passing through. While we were there, there were spot checks which, of course, held up the lines, but every so often, the border police would go inside the booth -- it was very cold, windy, and rainy -- and then the cars would speed through without check.
There were about 20 Palestinians down below the checkpoint, obviously waiting to get their i.d.'s back. When we left, after about 25 minutes, when it really started pouring, they still had not received them back and were still waiting in the rain. We have no idea how long they were waiting before our arrival because there was no one to talk to.