Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Wed 16.1.08, Morning

Neta A., Anat T. (reporting)


06:50 Sheikh Saed. It is a very cold morning. At the top of the hill there is a line - about fifteen people, mostly men. The cause of the line - the woman soldier who is checking documents writes down the names of everyone going through. It is not clear what happens with this list, even to the people manning the checkpoint. After a short discussion about our right to go through and to photograph the checkpoint the problem is solved by calling the headquarters of the BP commander in Jerusalem section. In general, it seems that the motto of our watch today is reasserting our  rights through the whole area (especially thanks to Neta who photographs on this cold morning people, fences and carousels).

The people standing in line tell us about their feelings, and about the bad road to Jerusalem and to Zeitim passage from their neighborhood. One cannot go through some parts of  the road in the rain. They all are waiting for the Supreme Court decision next Wednesday about the fence in Sheikh Saed. We talk with the soldiers in the checkpoint - the commander and the checking woman soldier. They too suffer from the cold. We turn to the center, and through it to the commander of Zeitim DCO, Leiutenant Elisha, in order to find out if one can give up the list of names. He promises to do something about it. In the meanwhile the line ends. We are glad to say that the gate in the area of the checkpoint that leads to the houses at the side of the checkpoint is not locked, and the people living in those houses are coming and going through it.

07:30 Sawhara . The place looks like a fortified castle surrounded by fences and gatesinfo-icon between the areas (the wall touches the checkpoint and some of the fences of the checkpoint belong to the seperation wall). At the exit from the path of the pedestrians there are obstacles - barbed wire, stones, holes. The soldiers exlained to us that the exit path was moved until the old gate is changed, today or tomorrow. We need to check if it happens.
Once again they argue with us where it is allowed to photograph, and once again the soldiers (who are suspecious but polite towards us) find out from their superiors that it is allowed to photograph in the checkpoint area, and that it is not a military area, because civilians go through it. 

On the way to the car we see a sign announcing a plan of a new road - the eastern ring road that is supposed to lead from "Har Homa"(Zur Baher area) to the area of the the old train station near the Chan. (we do not understand what they mean, and if it means the area of the Jerusalem Chan why does the road reach Sawahara ?)

08:15 Cliff hotel and the upper pishpash.  Through neglect and the window broken Cliff hotel the passage gate is close. A man and a woman soldier claim that many Palestinians go through it, and not only settlers from the house up the road. We are not allowed to go through, despite the logical fact that the whole area is part of the city of Jerusalem, but GCO edict is above any right, and the soldiers claim that there is such an edict. We do not demand to see it, but maybe it is worth doing so.
There is again negotiation about our right to photograph, and the woman soldier claims now that it is a violation of  her human rights to take her picture against her will at the checkpoint. Neta does not take her picture (what is a nice girl like you doing in a place like that), but the question stays open. We think that being soldiers they don't have the usual civil rights, and they represent IDF.

At the upper pishpash there is big commotion: there are two Jeeps and a visit of the commander of the area. After an introduction full of manners (you are too young and to nice, grandchildren soon to come, etc.) he gets less nice when he is asked when will the wall will be moved to the area of the monastery, according to Supreme Court decision from years ago (five years, according to him). He claims that it will take at least two more years (!!) because of severe engineering and technical problems. When we are amazed and suspecious about the complications that take so much time and are against the ruling of the Supreme Court, he gets very unpleasant, and asks us not to even hint ironically that he  might be lying.

09:00 Zeitim passage.  We did not expect the place to be crowded at this time, and in fact it was almost empty.

09:15 The Container ( Wadi  Naar).  The traffic towards Jerusalem flows, there are no detained taxis. In contrast, there are seven taxis detained on the way to Beit Lehem/Hebron. Some of the people say that they are being detained for three quarters of an hour. Why? What is the point in detaining the traffic entering area A? Is this the way we take care of the citizens of Israel? We ask them to check if there is a special alert that requires such a traffic jam. At the DCO they answer that there are no special warnings, but the routine is occasional checkups in both directions. Well, this does not look like occasional sampling of checking up, but like a sample of a checking up attack. We complain to the commander of the checkpoint - Ruby P. - about his private initiative of detainning the traffic. He does not want to talk with Anat after they had a stormy argument three weeks ago.
There were about twenty taxis detained on the way to Jerusalem (but he took documents only to a student or one or two engineers, and had thought that the taxis should go on their way and leave the passengers at the checkpoint, and if they don't do it - "it is their problem"). We need to have a follow up on this checkpoint, and take care that the commander does not have too many initiatives. This checkpoint, that is in area B, is the most interesting of all the checkpoints for Limor Y. from the Civil Rights association. She is interested in violations of the rights of free movement of Palestinians in order to apply to the Supreme Court. All the taxis detained  were released while we were there. Happily, this was done quickly.