Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Sheikh Saed, Wed 25.3.09, Morning

Observers: 
Anat T., Shira V. (reporting)
25/03/2009
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Morning

 

 


 

7:00  Sheikh Saed

Sparse traffic flowing uninterrupted.

 

7:20  Sawahara

With the soldiers' permission, we crossed to the Palestinian side.  Deep mud  surrounds the turnstiles and the window for presenting documents.  In order not to slip into the mud, those crossing swung on the metal spokes of the turnstile.  We saw a woman (with a child) who slipped and had to step right into the mud.  The commander told us that with every heavy rainfall the mud drifts into the checkpoint and it becomes difficult to cross.  He said he had called the private company which takes care of the place to ask them to come but nothing has beeb done.  In the meanwhile, after we suggested placing a plank over the mud, he ordered a soldier to place cartons. 

We spoke to A., spokesman for the Civil Adinistration, and he asked us to write a letter so that the matter will be taken care of. We shall do so.

8:00  Al-Bawaabe (Pishpash)

We entered the Palestinian side to check progress on the work of moving the fence eastward, as the Envelope DCO had informed.  We toured the nearby monastery, and photographed the only kindergarten (in Jerusalem? in the world?) where the cheerily decorated separation wall serves as a playground.

Hallucinatory.  We saw diggiing in preparation for putting up the wall, but were unable to figure out its path.    On our way out we had a conversation with a soldier -- we explained our views and heard his response, including partial agreement.

8:30  Wadi Nar

Upon our arrival we headed for the famous traffic sign on the edge of the lane where vehicles are detained, according to the agreement reached with the commander A. a few weeks ago (see report, 25.2.09).  The checkpoint commander (another A.) immediately came up and asked us to move back out of the checkpoint area.  He threatened to detain us if we refused.  We moved back a few meters, and tried to contact the battalion commander, or A., the officer of the unit in charge of crossing points, who had also been present when the agreement about the location of our observation point had been reached.

 

At some stage, the checkpoint commander came up and insisted that we move back even further, to the traffic lights at the exit -- this, he claimed, on the basis of a talk with the deputy company commander.  We refused and he took our ID's and detained us.  While he was filling out the forms we finally got hold of A., the battalion commander, on the phone.  He made no apology for the conduct of the checkpoint commander, and accused us of moving several meters beyond the agreed observation point which, according to him, was exactly at the yellow concrete fence.  In our opinion, the agreement about the location had been less rigid.  The conversation was harsh, and although we repeatedly explained what had already been determined by our lawyer -- namely, that the checkpoint area is not an out-of-bounds military area, and anything to the contrary be decided, they are required to show a general's order along with a map.  But he continued to insist that the area is closed and that we must obey the checkpoint commander.

At this point, the deputy comapany commander, S., arrived, and after an interchange which produced no results, the checkpoint commander came up with the detention forms.  We refused to sign, he did not insist, and returned our ID's.  We asked what would be done with these detention forms, and S. said that nothing would be done since we had not signed -- they would be filed in the unit with the classification of "administrative cancellation."  We protested forcefully about the policemen's abuse of their duty in writing a false report against us in order to obstruct our activities.

We must admit that, in principle, we feel it is rather useless to bother with these matters.  It seems to us that the sensible thing would be to stand near the yellow concrete fence, and when the need arises (to talk to detained Palestinians), to move a few meters forward, but not beyond the traffic sign.
 


The conclusion we draw from this irritating episode:  we should stand near the yellow fence, on the side of the checkpoint, with the possibility of moving forward when the need arises.
And another conclusion: when one needs to get to the airport by noon (Shira), better not get involved in arguments with checkpoint commanders, even when they annoy you.  In addition to possible detention, even arrest, one then needs to write a very long report like this one...