Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Sun 27.1.08, Morning
6:30 – 10:30
Guests: Talia & Gali (Leah’s Students from the preparation course at Sde Boker)
On our way to Sansana, we stop to photograph the bus stop at the edge of Metar. The drawings on the bus stop are identical to those on the bus stop at South Mount Hebron. Leah explains that the Bnei Akiva youth movement in Metar identifies with the Bnei Akiva in South Mount Hebron.
Metar Crossing (Sansana)
6:45 – A new shelter was constructed on the Israeli side (near the car park area). The workers are standing around a small fire trying to find some warmth on this chilly day.
We arrive at the Palestinian side of the checkpoint. Several dozen workers are waiting outside the carousel. As soon as we approach, the carousel opens and the line begins to shorten. The workers say everything is okay today.
One of the workers (who asks that we not mention his name), asks us to check why he is not permitted to cross to the Israeli side on Saturday, despite his request for family reunification and the permit he holds. He has a permit from the Civilian Authority and the District Coordination Office in Bethlehem, but the soldiers refuse to let him through and he has to travel from Rahat to Tarqumiya in order to reach Dahariya.
Several workers ask us to verify when the checkpoint closes on Fridays. They assert that it closes at 13:00 and they can’t get there in time to go through, so they have to go to Tarqumiya.
We wait a few minutes, see that the line is progressing, and go to the Israeli side of the checkpoint. The female guard at the crossing asks for Ibrahim’s papers. We all take out our papers as a sign of identification and she nods her head and mumbles ‘Machsom Watch.’
The parking lot is almost empty. A few workers are still going through the checkpoint despite the time.
Muhammad Alharigi asks us to check into a problem he has. The army caused damages of NIS 5000 to his car. He made a claim in the small claims court. He is not certain he did the right thing and asks us to check into this.
We look at the vehicle checkpoint area. A dog attached to its owner is sniffing at the cars and equipment. Three vehicles are waiting for the dog to make his decision.
Road No. 60
It’s very foggy today and almost impossible to see anything. The barricades along the road seem to protrude less after the rains. It’s likely that someone will renew them soon.
Dora El Faavor – open to vehicle traffic.
An army jeep that had a minor accident stands at the entrance to Hebron. It is blocking one of the lanes and a tow truck stands next to it.
The Pharmacy Checkpoint – Quiet. A thin stream of people passing through. The soldiers are cold. They tell us about an incident that occurred a week ago - there were gunshots on Bet-Hadassa. We are surprised this event did not reach the media.
Tel Rumeida Checkpoint - Lea discusses with the soldiers the event from last week - on 7.1.08. A woman gave birth at the Tarpat Checkpoint. The soldier says he was in command of the checkpoint that night. His version is different than the one that appeared in Gideon Levy’s article in Haaretz newspaper, but the facts remain the same – a woman gave birth at a checkpoint.
The soldier has trouble understanding that the problem stems from the fact that the ambulance couldn’t reach the woman’s home.
After a conversation that lasts about 15 minutes, the soldiers refuse to allow us to enter. ‘You don’t have a permit’ they assert. We try to explain that we don’t need a permit and our identity cards are our permits, but no one understands. We ask them to check. We overhear someone saying over the phone that we don’t have permission (Yaron from the Border Police).
We explain that we don’t accept the refusal to let us enter, but decide not to argue this time, since we have two young women guests (under draft age). We hearing gunshots somewhere far away. We stay calm, as do the soldiers. This is nothing out of the ordinary.
We walk down the road in the direction of the Tarpat Checkpoint. As we walk we look at the view. The city is fairly quiet and empty. Depressed and sad.
Tarpat Checkpoint – There’s no mistaking who’s in charge in this area. A huge sign for devision 92 greets us. It’s so brash, so out of place. We speak briefly with the soldiers and continue on our way.
Alongside Bet Hadassah, Leah gives us a history lesson on the Jewish settlement in Hebron. A vehicle from TIPH stops next to us.
We continue walking down the deserted road. Alongside the mural, a local police car stops next to us. We speak with Ilan who says that the next time we are prevented from going up to Tel Romeda, we should contact him. He offers to talk with the soldiers if we want to try again, but we refuse.
Leah shows us 4 murals decorating the walls of the houses. She names them: “No Arabs" One, “No Arabs" Two, three and four.
There is a mural on the wall of the army camp, too. On the camp’s water container is the slogan “Hebron Forever.”
We walk to the Cave of the Patriarch’s Checkpoint where we meet Ibrahim.
Only one store is open, but we’re not sure if it’s because of new sanctions or the cold. There are no delays. Everyone passes through without being checked. It’s too cold even for the soldiers. We get into the car and leave.
The tour seems to have made an impression on our two guests. They are very curious, ask a lot of questions, and fail to understand how this is possible. We, too, are still trying to understand.