Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Wed 29.7.09, Morning

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Yaeli D. and Hagit B. (reporting)

Trans. Revital S.

The CP is empty when we arrive; workers have already passed through and there are no family visits to the prisons today. We notice a shade has been arranged for the lorry drivers transferring sand "back to back".
Attention, CP administration: In this heat, the drivers waiting at Tarqumiya deserve one as well; indeed, that, and a toilet, too!

Road 317
We went to the Shany Levana CP and saw the fence. Shimshon troops are in charge of the crossing and the only traffic there goes to Shani Levana and Yatir forest. It is entered via the tallest pillbox I've come across in the OPT. There's a new caravan in Susiya South. Our driver said that it wasn't there only three days ago, on his privious visit. Next to Avigail outpost, road lighting is being put up"Beit Midrash Reuta" is written very prominently on the caravans by the big public building in Carmel (settlement). Construction work is as lively as always. There's very little vehicular traffic along the road.
Road 356
Zif Junction and Bnei Na'im CPs: open
Road 60
Tene Omarim (settlement): from the road, we notice six new caravans on the hill, next to the settlement. Our driver, a conscientious member of machsomwatch, insists that we go to check what's going on. We send Ya'eli, the youngest of us, to see what she can find out from the man standing by the offending addition to the landscape. He has a big white skullcap on his head and wears the fringed garment (zizit) and by him is something that looks like a pen with goats - in short, embodiment of the Hill Hooligans. Ya'eli asks if she can come to live there and is referred to Amir Kitron of South Hebron Hills local council. At the entrance to the settlement a notice says ninety four new houses are under construction. This may be a new neighbourhood, stronghold, perhaps on private Palestinian land. When we leave a bearded man with a skullcap inquires whether we're from Peace Now. Tene Omarim is in the process of marketing "a settlement offering high quality of life, twenty minutes from Be'er Sheva". In the four years since the Disengagement many settlers moved here from the Gaza Strip. Here is food for thought.
Below Beit Hagai the gate to Hebron is closed but on the wayside military bulldozers have piled up enormous mounds of earth.
The Sheep Junction and Dura Alfawwar CPs: the pillboxes are manned and traffic flows.
At Shuyuch Hebron Palestinian bulldozers are repairing the road.
Military works are in progress along the Zion route - mortar slabs are being taken down and changed around on the road. Two Border Police CPs on either side of the road are locked but by Curve 160 a BP jeep is parked all the time. The army says they'll open soon. The Palestinians from Qufeisha seem doubtful.
The House of Dispute: the Border Police coloured gate is always closed, forcing the Palestinians to leave the highway and make their way on the side. Three young mothers make their dangerous way there with babies in their arms. The soldiers don't detain them. By car it is impassable.
Bassam's grocery: we hear that yesterday the neighbourhood was teaming with military vehicles between 20:00-24:00 and people were afraid to venture out. They think it was to stop the Hill Hooligans from coming into their neighbourhood (called Giborei Hebron, Heroes of Hebron, by the settlers). Indeed we saw as we entered town that the shack and tent that stood in Avihai stronghold have been taken down.
Pharmacy CP: parachutists replaced Border Police soldiers. All pedestrians are inspected; even five year olds have to present their plastic bags for inspection. An elderly couple crossing on the side of the CP is called politely back for inspection. This CP is the departure point for the reconnaissance patrol and we see the six red-capped soldiers with drawn rifles walking the streets - delightful sight. To the older among us, this is reminiscent of the British Mandatory troops. By the CP we meet a civil administration official who came to allow a Palestinian tractor and another car cross over, to work in H2 zone. We relay the complaints about the water containers - the Palestinians claim that only those from Kiryat Arba are allowed into the H2 Hebron neighbourhoods and are triple the price of the Palestinian water. He says that the problem is known and that people should come to the Hebron DCO, where they will all receive the relevant permits, even having a special queue arranged for them. I find this hard to believe. The other CPs are deserted and the soldiers look washed out by the heat. No music blasts from the Gutenick Center - the days of mourning for the Second Temple.