Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Tue 26.2.08, Morning

Michal Z, Ilana L, Hagit B (reporting)

Meitar Crossing (Sansana)
06:30 – some 50 workers in line and more arriving, pushing each other though transit is fast and free. As usual, complaints about the closing of the checkpoint early (13:00) on Fridays. By 06:45, no workers in line. They complain about the opening hour – 05:00 instead of 04:30, as was agreed. Some of the workers return home because of the rain – another day’s work gone. We decide to to drive on, and on the way back to talk to Shlomi, the checkpoint manager, about all the points raised by the Palestinians.
Route 60
Thick fog, visibility not even one metre. The children walking to school, walking on the side of the road. Almost no vehicles, and no sight of army jeeps preparing rolling checkpoints.
Pharmacy Checkpoint: thick fog everywhere. The amiable janitor of the boys’ school is there, as are peace activists. Today they are not checking satchels, and the children are quite surprised at the innovation. Some of them open their satchels before the soldier asks. Clearly, despite a High Court ruling that satchels of under 12 year olds are not to be opened, the soldiers have an order to use their discretion. The soldier today foregoes, while yesterday’s soldier checked almost all in the pouring rain.
The janitor invites us into the school (el Ibrahimia) and shows us pictures of children who were ordered to open satchels by the soldiers. The photos are arranged in a sort of exhibition in the main hall of the school.
Tomb of the Patriarchs Checkpoints: teachers delayed. Immediately upon our arrival, they are released.
Tarpat Checkpoint: deserted.
Tel Rumeida Checkpoint: deserted.
Disputed House Checkpoint: deserted. The streets are empty, apparently because of the early hour and weather. On the way to the checkpoint, somebody has sprayed new graffiti – "Revenge!" A reminder, we can only roam area H2. The soldiers, on the other hand, can move around H1. The horrors shown in the recent TV program "Fact" were filmed in H1.
Route 356 - 317
No traffic, thick fog.
Meitar Crossing (Sansana)
09:30 – we stop to meet with Shlomi., commander of the checkpoint, in order to raise a number of problems. He is aware of all, and tells us the following:
1. The checkpoint opens every morning at 04:30, but at that hour only 30 workers come. The rest arrive together at 05:30. On Sundays the checkpoint opens at 04:00 and 1500 workers pass through. Other days, about 700 cross.
2. The two new positions are in the process of speeded up building, and he hopes they will be open soon, then – in his opinion – the last of the workers will be through by 06:30.
3. When the two new positions are ready, the prisoners’ families on their way to prisons in the south will pass through Sansana; he is already in contact with the Red Cross in Hebron.
4. Why do so many prisoner visit buses come together and cause a long wait: the buses have to get police escorts up to the prisons. The escort waits outside the prison till the end of the visit. The Red Cross pays for this escort. Every hour’s work of a policeman costs the Red Cross 400 shekels. In order to save money, the Red Cross puts all into one day, despite the long waits for checking.
5. S. Tells us that Betzalel Triever, Head of the Crossings Unit, is visiting Sansana Checkpoint today at 11:30, and we should come in order to press him about lengthening the openings on Fridays. The Military Police have to0 be on the spot in order to enter details of returnees into the computer. At present they are not there on Friday afternoons, and that is why the checkpoint closes early.
We returned later to Sansana, and met with Betzalel Triever. We stressed to him the need to open the checkpoint till a late hour on Fridays. The workers come from Mitzpeh Ramon, Yeruham and other distant places – and they cannot finish their day’s work so early in order to reach Sansana by 13:00. He listened politely, said that the matter is already on the agenda, and promised that he will inform us of his decision. He also told us that the new Tarqumia Checkpoint will open for pedestrians, not only commercial goods, at the end of March.