Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Sun 18.1.09, Afternoon
The Container: 15:40-16:40
4-5 soldiers in the middle of the crossing were controlling the traffic, the stations further down the road towards Bethlehem were not in use. There are no more pedestrians crossing the checkpoint. The workers get off cabs on one side, and on to cabs on the other.
The "commander" of the checkpoint, as he introduced himself, approached us twice to tell us that we are standing too close. At first "for our safety" since "we could be run over" and then, again "for our safety" but now because this is a "military zone". So we walked away towards El-Azariya and he could say nothing. We chose to watch the checkpoint from the northern side, opposite the "box", as there was considerably more traffic going southwards than northbound.
The vehicles (southwards) were queuing up to ten minutes, to reach the checkpoint. Buses, sheruts, taxis and sometimes a private car were checked for IDs of the passengers. Several times a vehicle had to park and wait next to the stations further down the road for the IDs of the passengers to be checked by the soldiers.
Someone who had been in the vehicle had to walk up to the soldiers to get the IDs back. There was one sherut which was detained for over twenty minutes.
The soldiers' procedure seemed arbitraty. Sometimes all vehicles were just let through without further checking and whilst one bus had to wait almost twenty minutes at the checkpoint, another one was done in no time.
All in all, the soldiers were unhappy to see us there whilst passengers of the vehicles smilingly waved to us.