'Anata, Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Wed 12.11.08, Morning
Anat T., Shira V. (reporting)
06:50 Sheikh Saed
Light and flowing passage of school children and a few adults; the place is quiet and fairly empty.
07:45 Zeitim Crossing
Dozens crowding the two open lanes. It appears that the unusual congestion is due to the arrival of people from the Hebron and Bethlehem area who had waited at Crossing 300 and given up hope of getting through. According to them, it had been an unusually difficult day at that checkpoint. We called the Bethlehem morning shift who were already well aware of the situation. Crossing at Zeitim was flowing efficiently; when the crowd increased a third lane was opened, and crossing time took 10 minutes at most.
In the course of conversations, some additional problems arose. We spoke to the commanders of the crossing about them. For example, the Palestinians asked for the rest-rooms to be left open. The policemen said they lock them because of vandalism and "criminal activity", and anyway, since crossing was rapid, there was no need for them. For those waiting for the DCO, there were rest-rooms at the DCO. Finally the commanders conceded that they would try once more to keep the rest-rooms open for the benefit of those crossing during rush hour.
Another problem that arose was the matter of freedom of passage for great numbers: the Palestinians, as well as the commanders, gave us to understand that Palestinian buses may no longer cross at A-Za'ayyem to reach Jerusalem, and are redirected to alterntive routes (we were unable to certify which). The commanders explained that this is due to the lack of sufficient means for security checks at A-Za'ayyem. We learned that the Palestinians had sued and lost.
We stopped to allow someone to sign documents requesting the remand of a refusal. Traffic at the checkpoint appeared to be flowing.
09:00 Shimon Ha-Tzadik neighbourhood
We stopped at the protest tent set up by the residents on behalf of a woman recently evicted from her home in this neighbourhood as part of a wider process of constructing a Jewish neighbourhood there. The meeting was important and interesting. We recommend a visit for those who can.