Hebron, South Hebron Hills, Tarqumiya, Wed 22.10.08, Morning
At 9am all the workers have passed through and three family visits' buses are being checked. A Red Cross representative complains that the process is longer than usual today and that the check commenced only at 8am. After the holiday, workers will be coming late to work. He tells me also that passing through the Sansana CP is far quicker, and that they need not wait for police escort there.
We meet acquaintances from Tarqumiya at the CP, people we often meet at the grocery. They claim that they've had an agreement with the District Coordination Office (DCO) at Tarqumiya (which the Palestinians don't take enough advantage of) according to which they can pass through the CP today, to pick olives in their grove, about 500m from the CP, on the Israeli side. When they arrived with all their family members, they were not allowed through.
Ofra handled the matter and it turned out that Jamal from the DCO understood their agreement differently; that they could pass through only tomorrow and even then, not through the CP, but via the agricultural gate, located in the fence next to the village of Idna – 7km from their grove.
Why such ineptness? And the callousness? That's how hate and resentment emerge. The trucks' pathway is as packed as usual.
Idna-Tarqumiya: The olive press is operating but only at half-load. Normally, people would come to take olive oil from Jenin too but, as the owner says, "there's no way…".
Pillbox is manned and on our way back, around 1-2pm, there are soldiers in the CP, stopping the cars approaching from the direction of Idna. The line is not long – but why not harass when one can?
"What do you want?" asks the soldier, "this is our daily activity." The other soldiers at the pillbox are busy cleaning its top – a 7th Brigade unit secures this area.
Halhul-Hebron Bridge: Some of us go onto the bridge to buy some glass products. Before long, a military Jeep stops by our transit car. He must protect us, even though we say we need no protection. He makes a detour upwards and gets to the shop selling the glass, protecting those of us who went to buy – thus, the Palestinians have gained another military encounter.
The Olive Passage: Around 10am, a rolling CP is laid out – only trucks are allowed in, while private cars are all sent back. As we stand there, the order is changed, and private cars are allowed too. On our way back, there are no soldiers next to the CP and vehicles of all kinds get into Hebron.
The Humanitarian CP: Pillbox is manned. No military vehicles.
Shayuch-Sair – all blockages are in place. In this Hol Hamo’ed (Jewish holiday), no soldiers go into the house at the crossing – there are no military vehicles.
We have the feeling that there are many more settlers' children and adolescents around now than usual – it's a day following the (Jewish) holiday and all schools are still shut. Actually, there are no special events anywhere. The feeling of a deserted city is intensified – Basm from the grocery says that, relatively speaking, this holiday has passed smoothly and there were no special incidences from the direction of the Disputed House (Beit Hameriva).
Patriarch's tomb cave: very close by, there are many military vehicles and Uri the policeman won't allow us up, towards Tel Rumeida. He shows us the "closed military zone" edict, effective 9am, tomorrow.
All this military force is here, to protect the olive harvest in Tel Rumeida – a harvest that only Palestinians are allowed to participate in because all the left-activists who want to give a hand and express solidarity are considered provocateurs.
We, who have come to show Hebron to our guests, manage to get to the Patriarchs' hill, the prayers' route, the Harsina hill, the Disputed House, where soldiers protect 14 particularly annoying families, and the pharmacy CP – here, too, despair is everywhere.