Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Fri 19.9.08, Morning

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Ayala G., Lea A. (reporting)


Third Friday in the month of Ramadan

Zeitim passage

09:10 - we go through the checkpoint towards Azariye quickly. There are three sleeves open towards Jerusalem. In each line there are about 10-15 people. At the exit, by the police checkpoint one of the police officers meets us with high spirited "good morning". The police chekcpoints create in this point two passage ways (one for men one for women). There are five policemen there. We keep going down, towards the first checkpoint that people coming from Ezariye have to go through. We meet there two UNRWA  men, one of them speaks English, the other one is Palestinian. A few minutes after we arrive they drive somewhere else, and return after 11:00.

This week the police checkpoints create two passage ways only (here too, one is for men the other one is for women). There are many soldiers and BP officers in the area. Some of them are checking the documnets, and others are coming and going. Military vehicles and Jeeps are parked at the parking lot on the left. A few tens of Palestinians are waiting in not so long lines, that move quite quickly. The checkup is quick, but thorough. The soldiers don't let people who don't follow the age criteria to go through. This week too there were at least twenty women under the age of 45,  and had no special permits, who were not allowed to go through, some of them came from Jericho and even further places. We found out that this week the maximum age for children is 10 years old, but this was not pulicized, and some parents and families arrived at the checkpoint with older children, who returned crying. Later on a 47 years old Imam (religious leader) arrives from a village near Hebron. He is not allowed to go through, but he waits until 12:00, and finally he goes to pray near by. When we asked him why he did not try to go through at Beit Lehem checkpoint he said that there are too many people waiting there at the outside, and people get hit there.  

We spoke with UNRWA people about the need to ask for some ease towards next week - to raise the age of children who can go through. As the Imam had said, it is a shame that a girl who is over 10 years old and accompnied by her parents can not go through), and also to remark about the rule that women who have special permits have to be married. The UNRWA people said that they had met a widow who was not allowed to go through. The economical situation in the occupied territories does not let many women (and men) get married - why should they be punished?


10:15 - The sodliers stoped a young man wearing a white jalabiye. They claim that he had tried go cross the fence via the water tunnel, and it is not they first time he tries to do it. They take him upwards, and sit him by the tower at the edge of the cement wall. We wait to see what happens with the youngster, and photograph, but after about a quarter of an hour and things don't change we get back to the first checkpoint. Twenty minutes later we return, and try to ask one of the soldiers who looks after things what happens with the youngster, but he ignores us completely.

11:15 A man who looks about 30 approaches and asks if we can helf him find out what happens to his wife. She wanted desperately to get to Jerusalem to pray, and she tried to go through the checkpoint with the ID and permit of her sister in law, and was caught. We go up to the police checkpoint in order to find out and see if she is helf for an inquest. The officer starts by saying that he knows nothing about it, but later on remembers that he had heard something about it on the wireless, and she may be in Ma'ale Adumim police station. We ask him about the youngster who is detained now for over an hour - he says that they are still waiting for the investigator, and if he will not arrive shortly, the young man will be released.

12:00 There arealmost no people at the place. We cross the chekcpoint back towards Jerusalem. The lines here are not very long, but are no less frustrating. It takes about ten minutes to go throug.