Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Thu 23.10.08, Afternoon
14:30: The CP is empty but car park is packed.
There seems to be many vehicles on the road. One of the road blocks was removed but we believe it was the work of the locals rather than a formal step by the military.Water tanks are ferrying the rare commodity from village to village.
At the Durah Alfawwar waterpool there are lots of children and, near by, a big transit-transformed into a kiosk is parked.
A youngster mounted on a horse pulling a cart with a water tank stands by the roadside.
At one of the entrances to Bany Na'im stand some military and police vehicles. We cannot make out what is happening there and decide to return after a turn in Hebron.
Flags of the new unit stationed there - Giv'ati - welcome us in. How wonderful, how bright and colourful, how incongruous in this depressing place. At the point of exit from Kiryat Arbah and entry into Hebron some boys and a pregnant woman are picking olives from trees on the Kiryat Arbah side of the fence. That stands to reason - judging by their size of course they were planted after 1967...On the path leading up to the Hill of the Patriarchs Quarter a big star of David has been placed atop a synagogue, that only a few weeks ago looked like a pile of rubble. A cover against the rain has been stretched over and the place is gradually assuming the look of permanence.All across town, signs welcome visitors to the city of the patriarchs. A woman pushing a baby in a pram walks, talking on her mobile, past the row of shops between Kiryat Arbah and Hebron, manifestly unafraid.
Across from Beit Hadasah, at the top of the school steps there's a new police post. On the left hand side of the road sits a policeman and on the right a soldier.
Pharmacy Junction looks cleaner and the soldiers are indeed sweeping the street. New mortar blocks have been placed and the CP is undoubtedly a much tidier and safer place. A new commander comes, brings along some new mortar blocks. His successor removes them. The next one along brings them back and so on and so forth. How long will this stupidity and money waste go on?
At the Tel Rumeidah CP a few new fences have been put up and it looks like the inspection of schoolbags has become the routine. The soldiers show us a Closed Military Zone edict, but it expired at 10:00am. They continue to insist very politely that we must not go up. At the bottom of the road a reserve officer of the civil administration arrives and talks to us for a few minutes very contemptuously. He is touring with a higher ranking officer that avoids us. When we try to take a picture he even covers his face and stays well away on the distant end of the street. What is he afraid of? The DCO climbs back up and I think to myself what is the army planning that they need authorization of a constructions officer?And the soldiers chant their cue on and on - "not permitted to go up." As they do so, a minibus carrying religious visitors passes us by, stops and disgorges its cargo, who promptly climb the road. The soldiers must realize how ludicrous they sound. At some point we decide to ignore them politely and go up. They look unsure and confused. We are detained one more time at the border control post but after a few minutes are permitted to pass.
On our way back we find that the number of vehicles at the blocked Bany Na'im crossing has increased. Some soldiers begin to march in, but they seem leisurely. A talk with head of Bany Naim municipality yields no information.We proceed and stop by the open entrance to Bany Na'im in the hope of meeting one of the owners of the land bordering Pnei Hever. We intend to join him for the olive harvest on Saturday the 25th. The guy decided at the last minute to give the meeting a slip. The civil administration forbade him to go to his plot before the 27th so he decides to give up the joint work.
Zif Junction - open. The waffles are tasty and tomatoes are cheaper than in Israel.
Susiya - We stopped to unload a few packets of olives and sacks of clothes.
Many workers on the Palestinian side of the CP. The Israeli side is empty and that's a sign that inspection is rapid and all is well.We went home.