Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Wed 26.3.08, Morning

Edna P., Anat T. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

07:00 Sheikh Saed

There are no police cars on the Armon Hanatziv/promenade road, and there are non opposite the BP camp at the entrance to Jabel MUkaber. On the other hand there is a BP Jeep at the connecting area between the slopes of East Talpiot Neighborhood and Jabel Mukaber, up the southern road descending into Sheikh Saed checkpoint.

The police car stops us, and a surprised BP woman soldier takes our documents for checkup. After a short checking and a warning that there is a reccomendation not to enter the neighborhood "because the situation there is sensitive" we keep going on our way, and pass carefully between boys who go to school. the children answer our hand waving with a smile. The older boys hit the car with their hands, not too strong,  but we feel the threat.

We don't know the commander of the checkpoint, N. The people of Sheikh Saed, we found out, know him well, and not for his good deeds.

N., in front of our astonished eyes, sends back a woman in active labor with her mother, back up the hill, because she has no permit. In contrast  to him, the two soldiers with him turn to us urgently, and ask us to talk with the DCO and ask them to give a quick permission for her to pass.

When we talk with N. and protest that he does not use his consideration or calls directly and asks for an urgent humanitarian permit, he threatens us with an arrest for obstructing the work of a policeman. This is the most urgent problem at the checkpoint, and this one is solved quickly by E. from Zeitim DCO. The needed phone call arrives within minutes, and the laboring woman with her mother go through without a permit.

Another acute problem is that of a group of high school pupils (most of them from "Sachnin" high school in Jabel Mukaber, and some high school girls from another school in the neighborhood), who are not allowed for the third day to go to school, because now there is more strict adherance to regulations about not letting people over 16 years of age with Palestinian documents to go through without a permit, even if they have a school membership card. E. is not influenced by our request to let them through, and he claims that those are the regulations, and one should be punctual about them, and he tell us to turn to the high school headmaster, since he is the one who has to ask for passage permit for those pupils at the Bei El DCO.

When we spoke with the headmaster we find out that he has already spoken, a week and a half ago with the head of the Arabic section in Jerusalem Education Administration, Swahilla Abu Gosh, and he asked us to help with enhancing the treatment of the requst. We ask the headmaster to talk with E. and find out exactely what is needed, and try to get a temporary permit for them, until beaurocracy grinds its eternal wheels. In the meanwhile the young boys and girls, all of them seem good kids who just want to go to school, stand around, helpless, with a heartach. The delays keep them at home, and each day increases the hatered.

We have to keep going and continue the checkpoint round.

Later on Anat spoke with the deputy Swahilla Abu Gosh, and she does know the case and starts enhancing the treatment. We will follow up during the week, hoping for a quick solution of this case.

08:20 Zeitim passage

There is no possibility to see, from the Israeli side, what happens inside the terminal. The fences were blocked by plastic sheets and barbed wires. Those who emerge the checkpoint tell us that now there are not many people in line. There are some drivers waiting to take passengers into Jerusalem.


08:50 Wadi Naar

Today is the day of school trips for school children in Henron area - Daharia refugee camp and others. We witness the passage of about 20 buses with boys who are on their way for a day out in Jericho. When we arrive there are two buses detained, and a huge line of cars winds its way to the checkoint.

The representative of the DCO, E., tells us that the reason for this crowding is the fact that in one bus that was checked before, half of the boys did not have IDs (Palestinian IDs, of course). Again, we get the impression that there is much more emphasis on the registration of boys and girls even in the educational system. The fear is, so explains E., that into those buses infiltrate people who are not students, and they can get off on the way and get wherever they want. One should remember that we are talking about an area that is ruled by the Palestinians.

We have an interesting talk with one of the drivers, who describes the promenade in Jericho, and talks about the difficulties of having youngsters of both sexes on the school trip - a lot of problems of "family honour" on the school trip. Wow to us.

In the meanwhile, within 20 minutes, all the buses are on their way. The bus driver remarks that it is a pity that on the only day in the year that those kids get a trip they have so many delays. There are many more checkpoint to cross.

By 09:20 all the traffic jam is over, and the traffic flows.