'Anata-Shu'afat, 'Isawiya (East Jerusalem), Al-Ezariya, Container (Wadi Nar)
Anata, Issawiyya, Azariah, Wadi Naar,
It appears that the grinding work near the checkpoint has stopped, temporarily at least putting an end to the noise and pollution. However, as we approached, we drove through the smoke and odor of burning trash and took note of the appalling heaps of garbage all around. Traffic through the checkpoint itself was sparse and moving without impediment.
Few changes at the three exits. The exits to the road to Maaleh Adumim and French Hill were unmanned and unblocked. However, the exit to Mount Scopus was now totally blocked off to anything but pedestrians. Bicycles, motorcycles, and baby carriages would not be able to get through.
Azariah, which several years ago got a real face lift thanks to U.S. Aid, is a real mess. The once flower lined esplanade is now lines with boulders and garbage. The road leading to Wadi Nar is one big dump made up largely of totaled cars and rucks.
However, after travelling along this depressing road for some kilometers, we came upon what appeared to be a nursery. We ent in, and much to our surprise and delight, we found a play area with a variety of swings and slides and other children’s play things. There was also an amphitheatre with a small stage as well as a small café. On the one hand, we were delighted to discover the first play area we had ever seen in the Azariah, Suwahre, Abu Dees area. On the other hand, we noted that there were no homes near the site and it was located in an area inaccessible to children. At the time we were there – after school hours when children would ordinarily seek out play areas, the place was deserted except for one young man who spoke only Arabic. He told us that the place had been set up about 5 years ago (about the same time that the cleanup of Azariah took place), but we were not able to learn about the extent to which the place is currently in use.
There was more activity at Wadi Nar than in recent months, but nowhere near the numbers that used to be there. Also, there was not one single van awaiting workers – another sign of the disconnect between these villages and Bethlehem and points south.