Only one parched Olive tree at the Olive Checkpoint
Sheikh Sa'ad checkpoint
Female Medical students await their friend while passengers trickle at the checkpoint in both directions. There were no school kids today, but according to those we speak with - on weekday mornings there is a high density of passagers. Today there really are not many passers-by, which is why 4 Border Police soldiers probably allow themselves to gather outside, smoke and chatter. One remains inside, passing those waiting one by one, pausing in between. Customer service awareness in the checkpoint is not the highest!
The American Road to Silwan
The old American road was renovated and widened to a point just before turning into Silwan. And what next? All the narrow, congested and arduous ascent to the Mount of Olives? The pretzel seller at the intersection and his friends tell us that the houses further down the road (rising to Ras al-Amud) recieved demolition notices due to the widening of the road. They say they want to build a big bridge to the Mount of Olives. We contacted Nir Hasson and "Bimkom" with questions, and we will update later. In Silwan a quiet morning. In Batan al-Hawa they're awaiting the outcome of the trials and the expected demolition orders. How can one live like this? Our young driver says that until the age of 7 he grew up in Silwan and he misses the neighborhood. He now lives in the Shuafat refugee camp, where criminal organizations are fighting each other over drug territories and there are no active police.
The Olive Barrier
At the intersection between a-Tour and the road ascending to the checkpoint, there is a jeep and next to it a policeman and a female Border Police officer, who check a young person's ID with her tablet. (We've already mentioned that the culture of policewomen at the various checkpoints - insults our feminism). Why check here? We ask, the barrier is right up there. The answer is zealously uttered: "We maintain order throughout Jerusalem." On the Palestinian side of Azaria, to which we pass at the checkpoint, the drivers say that the work is good in the morning, that many people have passed, and that their side doesn’t have Corona at all ... nor is there a real queue. In the checkpoint stand three soldiers with the surprised and suspicious look of "What are you doing here?". Really insulting that we are not mentioned at their job briefings ...
Shuafat refugee camp checkpoint
Today as usual there is a traffic jam on the way to the checkpoint. One of the lanes is blocked by a bus whose passengers have been taken off until their ID checks are completed. As we go to speak with the passengers the security guards jump into high alert and stop the traffic altogether. We give up and go to the pedestrian crossing. The filth here is appalling, both inside and out. Today's checkup includes both magnetometer and a manual bag check by the checkpoint commander and a female Border Police assistant. A personal example, he explains to us. We comment on the neglect and dirt at the checkpoint and he says it will be taken care of. Next time we’ll start at this checkpoint at 6:30.
I called the father of the girl who was hit in the back by a stun grenade that penetrated her house through the window about two months ago. We tried to make an appointment with the girl, ask how she was and get an impression of what was happening in the neighborhood now. The father asked us to call in the morning and gave the wrong phone number of the Sheikh Jarrah's committee chairman. This morning his phone is off and we didn't want to barge in uninvited. But at least we saw that there are no barriers in Sheikh Sa'ad at all. That is, there are police fences on the side, but all the entrances and exits are wide open. Netanya, the tireless protester, could not believe her eyes. All aflutter, she called an acquaintance, who explained that fences are only placed now during demonstrations. We intend to return to Sheikh Jarrah.