Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Tue 6.1.09, Afternoon
Julia W., Rina H., Chana G., Rahel W. (reporting)
Entry into Azariah was unimpeded when we arrived, but by the time we went home from Wadi Nar, there was a flying checkpoint set up on the road to Qedar and the road to Maaleh Adumim.
When we arrived at Wadi Nar, there was once again a larger contingent of military personnel than usual -- both border police and army. There are also some changes at the site. There was a jumble of barbed wire on the "short cut road" to Azariah which made the drivers circle around it. Also, checking of vehicles heading toward Bethlehem was not done at the usual site but on the main road before drivers had to make the turn toward the checkpoint itself.
Two new enclosed booths have been erected and the road widened sufficiently so that two lanes of traffic can head in each direction simultaneously, but at the moment, no one was manning any of the booths. The same thing happened with a transit carrying four children (two of them dressed in Santa Claus outfits -- today is the Orthodox Christmas--). They were turned back, tried to cross again and this time were pulled over to the side. Both vehicles were allowed to continue after about a 15 minute wait.
After the very stringent check of several vehicles, everyone was just waved through and about 30 vehicles zoomed through before the soldiers changed their minds. Go explain!
On our way back via Mount Scopus, we drove between demonstrations on either side of the road. On one side, there were pictures of the horrors of Gaza and Palestinian flags; opposite were Israeli flags and signs saying "Let the IDF win".
There was more checking of vehicles than usual. One vehicle with a license plate marked "on test" was not allowed through, but the driver tried a second time and was allowed through but was then held up while his documents were checked.