Bethlehem, Sheich Sa'ed, Ras a Sabitan, Cliff hotel
08:00 Sheikh Sa’ad checkpoint
We arrived along the road from Hebron Road to Ramat Rachel, going toward Tsur Baher, and then at the roundabout toward Armon HaNatziv. Wayz knows! It’s an easier drive than through the schools in Jabel Muqaber. Extensive resurfacing and widening are underway south of the checkpoint, and also along the American road to Silwan and Ras el Amud. The checkpoint itself is empty at this hour, there’s only one exit door to Jabel Muqaber and one turnstile to Sheikh Sa’ad. We met a medical student from Al Quds University waiting for a ride to the campus with one of the many makeshift taxis parked beyond the Sheikh Sa’ad checkpoint. The drivers are young unemployed men who aren’t able to work in Israel. It’s been a long time since we proceeded uphill, and we returned through the checkpoint. Even though the crossing to Sheikh Sa’ad is in Area B, under Israeli security control, only residents of Jabel Muqaber and Sheikh Sa’ad are allowed to cross to Israel. We don’t have time to argue today, or to return through the very distant Zeitim checkpoint. Later we ask our liaison from the neighborhood committee what’s going on with the southern ring road. It’s impossibly narrow. He says they don’t know whether the checkpoint will be moved, and to where. He expects olive groves to be expropriated on behalf of the Jerusalem municipality’s plan no. 322/157/4. He sends us photos of the signs posted on the American road and near the checkpoint. We put him in touch with “Bimkom” – Sherry Kronish and Diana, the field representative – to organize a tour, collect information and help submit objections.
09:00 Zeitim checkpoint, Ras el Amud road, Khalif Hotel, Abu Dis
The American road is in need of repair. The Zeitim settlement in Ras el Amud is growing and expanding. We were glad to see the settlement near Khalif Hotel still has only one structure. The once-lovely hotel is now a ruin. The owner regained it after years of court cases, accompanied by an adjacent separation wall on three sides.
Some young men sit waiting for rides at the Zeitim checkpoint plaza. They say they have permits for an excursion. We were pleased. We learn there’s a power outage at the checkpoint after shouting back and forth to the inspection booth which isn’t responding to those waiting to cross to Azariyya and then to Jerusalem. Finally a security person arrives and appears to fix the problem by pressing on a remote control device. The elderly man stuck at the exit crosses on the way to the hospital accompanied by family.