Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Tarqumiya, Tue 22.1.08, Morning
6:30 – 10:30
Metar Crossing (Sansana)
When we arrive at 6:40 in the morning, there are already no workers. A transit arrives, the workers get out and cross through immediately. A covered structure has been built on the Israeli side (not big) as a protection from the rain. A small market is developing on the Palestinian side – there’s already a kiosk.
Roads, 60, 35, 356, 317
Rain, fog and cold. School vacation – it’s the winter exam period and we don’t see children going to school. There’s a little more Palestinian vehicles on the roads.
There are army jeeps at the entrance to Dahariya next to Samoa, Shuyukh-Hebron, the Humanitarian checkpoint, and next to the grocery at Zif Crossing. At the store they knew nothing about the widow procedure that occurred in Yitah. I got a telephone call the night before yesterday and didn’t understand the details. The conversation was cut off and when I called right back, there was no answer.
The soldiers stay inside the jeeps and don’t delay people. All the pillboxes are manned. In the attached picture you can see the Sheep Junction in the rain. Commentary is extraneous – Enlightened occupation looks like this.
We arrive at 8:30. According to the estimate of Sh., the checkpoint commander, fewer workers than usual crossed because of the weather. He estimates 2500 workers instead of the usual 4000.
Nine buses for family visits, full of small children due to the school vacation. Two are already on their way to Shikma Prison in Ashqelon, and another seven are waiting their turn for the examination – all on their way to Ketziot Prison. Two soldiers from the District Coordination Office are checking the papers along with a representative from the Red Cross office in Hebron. It seems to me that if only four buses came at once, the waiting time would be tolerable. The Red Cross and the Prison Authorities should coordinate the number of buses that leave at one time, without harming anyone’s right to visit. In the meantime, families are waiting up to three hours in the buses in this freezing weather…at 9:15 the last bus leaves.
Hebron is bad: difficult and wet and foggy and annoying and angry and disturbing and heart wrenching in never-ending despair. The children are on vacation – the streets are deserted, there are a few more checkpoint positions – a military jeep on the way to the Cave of the Patriarchs. There are no detainees.
The Cave of the Patriarchs Checkpoint – deserted. A little ways after the checkpoint – they’ve added another checkpoint on the Palestinian’s path. A young boy is standing there without a jacket, talking or delayed by the soldiers. Before we can get out of the car, he is on his way – nothing unusual in this awful city.
The Tel Romediya Checkpoint, the Pharmacy Checkpoint and the Tarpat Checkpoint – no one is there when we pass at 7:45 in the morning.
The Disputed House – TIPH, the international police are there sitting in a car. Soldiers are guarding the place and there are positions sheltered from the rain down below and on the roof – soldiers from the border police are in the checkpoint station and a few Palestinians are passing through. All the cars are in the parking lot that the settlers have taken over and their children are waiting at the bus stop for the bus to take them to school. They set up a wooden step so it would be easier to get up and down.
We enter Bassam’s grocery to warm up – Bassam is sitting at the machine for sewing shoes next to the small electric heater. He makes us coffee and tells us about the incidents over the weekend at the Red House, the disputed house.
Every weekend the residents of the disputed house host families that come to encourage them – people from Kiriyat Arba. Instead of going to pray at the Cave of the Patriarchs, they pray at the disputed house (a synagogue was set up there). Every Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon they collect stones. Some 50 settlers aged 12 to 60 begin throwing stones at the Palestinians. Bassam took pictures of the incidents from his roof.
Last Saturday, our friend Issa from B’Tzelem arrived at 5:00. He began taking photographs and asking the soldiers why they don’t interfere. The soldier – an officer from the Samson Unit – tried to take Issa’s camera away by force. Issa called the police. A female settler arrived at the site of the argument and claimed that Issa had been violent toward her. The officer began hitting Issa. The police, instead of arresting the officer and the settler, arrested Issa. Bassam brought his photos showing what had happened to the police and Issa was released on NIS1500 bail (paid for by B’Tzelem) yesterday at five in the afternoon, and he was forbidden to return there for the next two weeks. Issa’s trial will be held on Feb 9th at the Ofer Camp. Out of fear of the soldiers, Bassam gave his camera for safe keeping to Oren from B’Tzelem. I spoke by phone with Issa and Mussah – they are both totally down.