Sansana (Meitar Crossing), South Hebron Hills

Yehudit K. (reporting) and M.D.

The first Sunday after the long closureinfo-icon of the West Bank during the Passover holiday - Meitar checkpoint is totally jam packed with the line of workers reaching way beyond the sleeveinfo-icon where they are checked. It takes until 08.00 am to clear the backlog instad of the usual 07.00 am. We see three buses of the Red Cross for families visiting political prisoners, we don't know how these people got across the checkpoint today. Immediately beyond the checkpoint we see a large group of men, and even a woman, arrested for trying to cross illegally into Israel.  According to one social media site "Rotter" 89 people were detained. In spite  of that we saw many more people trying to infiltrate, some of them sneaking past the police while they were checking others!  There was a significant presence of Border and Civil police along Route 60, which was  incredibly busy. All the usual checkpoints were operating between Dahariiya and Al Fawwar. The latter is a strange case: there is a "yellow gate" barricade some 100 meters from Route 60 and on the junction with that road another staffed checkpoint.  In case of "incidents" such as stone throwing the village can be closed off by the gate.  Oddly. opposite the entrance \exit to Al Fawwar is the entrance/exit to the town of Dura. Here there is a staffed checkpoint where traffic flows reasonably smoothly.  We noticed that the village of Abda, some short distance south of Al Fuwar which is usually blocked by a "yellow gate" (reported a few weeks back was open today. We went to check and met a local man A. (name held in confidence) who is disabled (post-stroke). He told us that his son used to circumvent the checkpoint by means of a very, very steep path leading to the road.  Just on that day of days when the checkpoint was open, the army had blocked the alternative route with a large rock making vehicular passage impossible.  We watched the disabled villager toiling up the rocky path, a real Via Dolorosa.We returned via the village of Simiya where, as reported in the past, the school was demolished some months previously and the children learn in tents.  We were told that the school continues to function in the tents but that the day was a holiday: Easter Sunday for some Eastern Christians; the Palestinian Authority honours all the holidays of all the religious groups. As our host said: We are all Palestinians!

Back at Meitar checkpoint the "illegals" are no longer around. The area on the Israeli side  is landscaped and flowery as if this was a normal border crossing.