Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Tue 23.12.08, Afternoon

Julia W, Rina H., Rahel W. (reporting)
There were no checkpoints or barriers leading into Azariah.  Movement  was as usual.

Wadi Nar

Major changes have taken place at Wadi Nar since we were here last almost two months ago.  The entire area in front of the checkpoint has been expanded so that now there is the equivalent of two lanes going in each direction, and the area has been repaved.  The road leading to Wadi Nar from the Qedar Road now leads directly to the checkpoint area and the turnoff where we used to leave our car has been blocked by a new concrete barrier.

As we approached the checkpoint (climbing over the barrier) a soldier approached us and  told us that we were not allowed in the area and that we had to stand behind the barrier.  We told him that we had been coming here for years and there were never such restrictions, and he said those are the current rules.  We told him that we were going into the grocery store (which was within the closed off zone) and he said nothing.  We asked the shop owner when these new changes came into effect and he said just today.

At present, there is just one operating checkpoint for vehicles going in both directions.  About 10 meters down the road toward Bethlehem, there have been installed four checking booths --two for vehicles coming from each direction.  As was the case in Qalandiya,  we are witnessing the transferral of a temporary  checkpoint area into a permanent one. 
As for the movement today, it was quite rapid.  It was terribly windy and sand gusts were so strong that we were often blinded by it.  The soldiers, who had absolutely no shelter, were facing the same conditions and as a result, they seemed quite ready to just have the traffic go as quickly as possible.
What we noticed is that there seems to be no provision for pedestrians -- the hundreds of workers who usually pass through every day.  During the time we were there, there were no pedestrians so we were not able to determine how they maneuver in these new conditions.