Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Sheikh Saed, Mon 27.10.08, Afternoon
13:30 – 17:00
At the CP of Sheikh Sa’ed was a female commander who politely let us in. The neighborhood looks each time more quiet and deserted. All the shops at the entrance, which were still operating until a couple of months ago, are closed and shuttered. There is almost no one on the square. The garbage as usual is piled up along the fence and emits its stench. Cars are parked in a row along the road, some awaiting a passenger who arrives on foot past the checkpoint and needs a ride for a couple of cents to a part of the neighborhood which is located further off.
From one of the cars a young man called out to us and complained re his situation. He is married and has a child and in possession of a green Id, is unable to go out to work to earn something for security reasons. About six months ago he approached the Shabak re the reason of his being refused and he was promised a reply by telephone, which of course till today never reached him. We suggested he contact Sylvia, but since we had left her number in the car which was parked on the bottom beyond the CP we asked him to wait a couple of minutes until our return. We returned after less than five minutes, but the man had disappeared. According to his friend who was still sitting in the car, he had to leave urgently. We left Sylvia’s number with his friend and hope that the urgent matter was something positive. We always ask ourselves whether despair causes the helplessness which he showed.
We continued along the Road of the Americas to Ras El Amud and watched the continued construction of the enlargement of the Moskovitz Settlement. From there to Abu Dis. In Abu Dis too all was extremely quiet. At the Pish-Pash there was not movement at all. When we asked the soldier about the lack of people, we were told that sometimes someone crosses and indeed a couple of minutes after our arrival one lone young man passed!
We didn’t stop at the Olive Passage since from our experience the last couple of months here too there are hardly any people in the afternoon. It looks as if the amount of people between the two parts of the city has gone down a lot.
At the “Container” there is news; on the hill to the left (if you arrive from Maaleh Adumim) a military post has been set up. A wall surrounds it and in the middle there is a tall observation tower on which the Israeli flag is flying ‘gloriously’.
For unclear reasons there were five cars held up on each side of the checkpoint (almost all yellow transit vans), the documents of the passengers had been taken for inspection. According to the passengers with whom we were able to talk, they had been waiting already for more than half an hour; there was even someone who said it had been an hour. Some of the passengers asked us to apply to the soldiers, but before we could even think how and where to assist them, we heard the whistle, which invited the drivers to collect the papers of their passengers.
After the cabs had left the soldiers for some reason narrowed the passage through which the cars had to get to Bethlehem. They put up a metal device with the result that the opening was too small for trucks which had to maneuver back and forth in order to pass, thus causing delays in the queue. After a few trucks had gone through in this clumsy way one of the soldiers moved the obstacle and traffic could proceed reasonably. Workers who had arrived from the direction of Maaleh Adumim and tried to pass on foot to the other side of the checkpoint were shouted at and shown with dirty movements to get into cars for the sake of the passage. We still don’t understand the reason for this change in policy. Most of the workers greeted us showing their appreciation for our presence.
An uneventful shift, frustrating as usual.