Mon 26.5.08, Afternoon

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Orit Y. and Ilana D. (reporting)

From 3:00 till 5:30 PM

Ramot Road CP, Giv’on East, New Giv’on,  Mt. Samuel (Har Shmuel) roadblock and Al-Jib CP.

On our way to Atara, which we never reached, we stopped at the side of the Ramot Road CP to find the path to the New Beit Hanina blocked with barbed wire. The Commander of the CP told us that this CP had been closed for a couple of months and that Palestinians now use an underpass (“which you cannot see and which has cost the state millions”) and need no more CP’s to reach Ramalla. Only a Bedouin who has a permit can now pass with his sheep. Although there is no red sign, we are not allowed even on foot to enter to look down over the pot-holed road. He said that with a blue Id we are allowed (although he doesn’t recommend it) to drive to Beit Iksa and beyond (we will try this another time).

On the way to look for the underpass, we entered Giv’on-East past weird road signs, which are blocked by high fences – we regretted that we had no camerainfo-icon with us. People explained to us that it is a ‘yishuv’, which has been in existence for a long time and is now separated from New Giv’on because of the main road. It consists mainly of what looks like illegally built temporary constructions. O. wanted to visit the New Giv’on which had figured on TV because of a fenced-in Palestinian house. We crossed the main road and spotted what looked like the underpass road, but drove first into the settlement where inhabitants happily directed us all the way up (past a ‘promenade’ fenced off with barbed wire offering a splendid view of the expansion of Giv’at Zeev) above the ‘wall’. The above-mentioned house is indeed located smack in the middle of newly-built Jewish villas, separated by tall fences with coiled barbed wire on the top and connected by a narrow fenced-in corridor with the original Palestinian village, which is (literally) a stone-throw away – to see it is to believe it!

On the way out we passed neglected olive-groves and barren land where probably vineyards must have been. The road sign to Bidu led us over the newly built road, which is dug deep into the surface and hidden on both sides by tall concrete walls on both sides of the overpass bridge. We stopped to peek and noticed that traffic passed fast in both directions. We continued over the bridge (overpass) to reach lush cherry orchards at the bottom of the new villa settlement of Har Shmuel (Mt. Samuel) where we met the Jewish owner with a large number of Thai workers packing cherries. He told us that we had to drive around via the main road to enter the settlement, which according to the (erased) road sign, apparently is an extension of Giv’at Zeev located across the road from Nebi Samuel. We saw some cars parked next to the blocked road to Bidu where contractors dropped off their workers who proceeded on foot to where transportation is awaiting them. We were told that the Border Police sometimes raids this spot, since the workers are supposed to make a large detour and use the new Al-Jib CP, which is much further away for them. We explored the massive construction of huge villas in Mt Samuel.

Then we found the Al Jib CP with no difficulty turning right just beyond the gas station at the entrance of Giv’at Zeev on the left. Two civilian guards explained to us that this CP can only be used by Palestinians who have work permits for Givat Zeev. A Border Police soldier in a well-protected small concrete construction has a computer and can check. We were told to move away since in this area one is supposed to wear ceramic vests. Some workers returned and passed without hindrance to buses and vans awaiting them a few hundred yards beyond. There is major construction in progress to complete the wall after which this is no longer going to be a temporary crossing, but a proper passage, albeit only for pedestrians.