Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Sheikh Saed, Tue 10.3.09, Morning

Observers: Ronit B., Anat T. (reporting)


Summary: We were not expecting unusual events on this shift, but it seems that during closureinfo-icon times particular humanitarian problems arise requiring our (not always successful) assistance.

07:00  Sheikh Saed

Overflowing garbage tips and garbage on the road, all the way down the hill to the checkpoint.  It seems there has been no garbage collection for several days.

Before reaching the checkpoint we were stopped by a couple of acquaintances from Sheikh Sa'ed who told us that an old woman from Jabel Mukhaber had passed away in the night, and that family members from Sheikh Sa'ed wished to come to the funeral a few hundred meters away from their home, but they were refused permission to cross (Palestinian ID's, closure). 

We made contact between the family representative and the officer T. from the Jerusalem Envelope DCO at Zeitim Crossing, who asked him for a list of next of kin only (i.e. no nephews, etc.).  We passed the matter on to Hanna B"rg, asking her to try with higher echelons.  After many phone calls, Hanna succeeded at the eleventh hour to arrange permits for the rest of the family to reach the funeral which took place at 11 a.m.

Other than that, the checkpoint was fairly empty -- no workmen because of the closure, but pupils, teachers, medical teams and church staff were allowed to cross.  The soldiers were polite.  The magnometer beeped according to its whims.

08:00  The American Road to Ras-al-Amud is also strewn with garbage and overflowing bins.  We called the municipality and they recorded our complaint regarding garbage disposal in Jabel Mukhaber, and referred us to the person in charge of garbage disposal in the area.  But although we kept calling throughout our shift, there was no reply, and our calls were not returned.

08:30  Zeitim Crossing

We crossed to the Palestinian side where we met 4 nursing trainees with valid permits for three days of training in Augusta Victoria Hospital.  They were not allowed to cross on the grounds that medical training is not a case of special permits during closure.  The nursing school is in Ramallah, but these trainees had come from all over the West Bank.  We tried talking to the DCO officer, T., but to no avail -- she was obeying orders.  She suggested we speak to the person in charge in the health adminstration, Dalia Bassa, who might be able to loosen the rules if she saw fit. 

We tried to reach her by office phone and cell-phone but there was no reply.  We turned to Yael Shalem, who spoke to Aryeh, the new spokesman of the administration, who tried for an hour to find a way to bend the rules to let these poor girls cross.  After about an hour and a half we got his negative reply.  We informed the trainees, and suggested they make another date for their training, as well as to make doubly sure that no Jewish holidays or closures are planned for that day. 

And we submitted a protest to Aryeh about the administration's issue of permits without bothering to inform the recipients about expected holidays or closures (year after year) for those dates when it's unlikely that their permits would be of any use.

When we crossed through the checking corridors the line was short but moved very slowly.  From time to time we heard the female soldiers barking something through the loudspeakers, and reprimanded them.

09:30  Wadi Nar

The road was beautiful, and we were glad that Ronit B., who returns to Berlin this afternoon, could enjoy the sun and desert views in this pristine air.  Traffic at the Wadi Nar checkpoint was flowing, but again we had to confront the commander who had not heard of the agreement reached (with the company commander, A., and the representative of the crossing points, A.), according to which we are permitted to stand behind the "yield" sign, next to the taxis parked for checking of documents.

It took some time, but the orders arrived.  To save face, it seems, the commander tried to claim we had wanted to stand directly next to the checking booths, and therefore he had not agreed.  A lie, of course.  We called A., the company commander, to say so.  A few minutes later we set off for Jerusalem.