The Olives checkpoint: Human rights? Not here
6:30 Maccabim checkpoint
I just passed and photographed the fenced narrow passage where the workers who arrive at dawn and morning from Beit Sira and the surrounding area are allowed to get on the bridge leading to the Maccabim checkpoint. If there was a fear of a dangerous passage on the road, why not expand a little, people pass by here (who by the way are building for us), not cattle.
7:00 Olives Checkpoint
Many buses fill the parking lot - most of them travel to the Nablus Gate. There are inscriptions on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint about the renovation of the Azaria access road to the checkpoint - a steep and problematic road used by many thousands every day.
2 isles are open. This is the passage time for children who attend the best schools in the entire Jerusalem area. One quiet, bespectacled child passes the magnetometer and object-checkout and stands by the carousel at the exit of the locked checkpoint. Long minutes pass and none of the soldiers turn to him (there are three in a position framed in tempered glass). At the same time, the entrance carousel is also locked and people are queuing up. We are all waiting.
Finally we manage to establish shouting contact with the indifferent soldiers. Then they realize that the child has simply forgotten that he has to submit a certificate, but it is difficult to understand why they do not turn to him and ask him to submit and pass.
Meanwhile, the number of soldiers in the closed position rises to six, and the center of attention shifts to us. They demand that we delete the photo we took of the child inside the checkpoint (attached photo).
Our explanations of the checkpoint as a public space open to the activities of human rights organizations are unfamiliar to them. They are so convinced that the checkpoint is a closed and secret military area and their work is a sacred work for the security of the State of Israel. It's so sad because they look like the children of us all. Children who have undergone training that does not include human rights or any sense of service or treatment of a lost and confused Palestinian child as a child who needs guidance and attention to navigate the checkpoints he must go through for school. We wait another quarter of an hour or so for the checkpoint commander, then comes the order to release us.
Nabi Samuel - The school for the children of the village and the children of Khirbet al-Leila
It's a miserable and heartbreaking place. The school is surrounded by a wooden and barbed wire fence. Caravans with tiny classrooms, where 80 children study from kindergarten to ninth grade. The teachers are young and cute girls - they teach according to the Palestinian curriculum. Nabi Samuel is a small Palestinian enclave in Israeli territory separated by construction bans, work bans and traffic bans wherever possible - except for a round trip to the Al Jib checkpoint, which is 2-3 kilometers north and leads to the Bir Naballah enclave. The goal seems to be to evict and turn the entire compound into a religious site within a national park.
We came to ask how winter was going and got a visual answer: in the principal's room were two tubs on the table - one small to absorb the leak from the roof, a small one, and a larger one for emptying the small one when it fills. The principal talks about the difficulties with the electric network and the transfer of equipment to the school, including gas stoves (because the network can't support the consumption of electric heaters).
N., the local secretary (who is also heads the feminist organization of the women of Nabi Samuel), shows us a two-day-old video in which the soldiers at the crossing to Jib (opposite Givat Zeev) are seen forbidding her son and his family to return to Nabi Samuel from the Bir Naballah enclave in the evening. The residents are allowed - but for some reason the soldiers decided that tonight they will not pass - and the son's request to contact a DCO representative and check the certificates did not help. The incident ended with beatings and an ambulance to the hospital. The village came out to the checkpoint two days later to protest the ongoing problems, but even then, although an officer heard the complaints and promised to handle them - 2 young men from the village were arrested for cursing a soldier whom they identified as an abuser.
We passed the video and details to Hanna Barag, and she will help file a complaint.
The young teachers who are not residents of the place told us that the road to work is very long, because they are not allowed to go through the Al Jib checkpoint at the exit from Bir Naballah enclave to road 436. The checkpoint is only for workers working in Givat Zeev. Thus, teachers from the nearby Bir Naballah and Kfar Akev residents are forced to squeeze in traffic jams to the Qalandiya checkpoint and make a huge detour through Ramot to reach their workplace, while a short and direct road leads to it.
We asked that they send us a list with photocopies of identity cards that also include a place of residence, accompanied by a signed letter from the school principal confirming that they are teachers at the place. Hanna will try to help them contact the administration and apply for passage permits at the Al Jib checkpoint.