Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Tarqumiya, Wed 25.11.09, Morning

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Mical Ts. and Hagit B. (reporting)

Translator:  Charles K. 
By 06:40 there are no longer any laborers crowded in line, but only relatives of prisoners.  We counted three buses. The trucks carrying sand are busy unloading and loading “back-to-back.” Italo Calvino wrote a wonderful book: “Invisible Cities.” Today we felt that a person who would have joined our shift might have felt the invisible occupation. Our routine, the absence of any unusual incidents – a cloudy mist of acceptance and accommodation has settled over all the present-absentees in this part of the country. I became very angry at the settlers who eliminated any possibility of a Jewish state – there will be a “state of all its citizens” – now under apartheid, but later… 
Route 60
A bus belonging to the Palestinian bus company leaves As-Samu and picks up passengers. The pillboxes at Dura, Al Fawwar and the junction are manned, and traffic flows.  We see many more Palestinian vehicles on the road.  The electric company is placing large poles between the humanitarian checkpoint and east Halhul, which might be the reason the road to Karmei Tzur is being widened. 
At the entrance to Sa’ir, below the pillbox, we see four Palestinians talking with senior officers – a major and others. We stop the car and observe from a distance. The conversation seems friendly; they’re speaking Arabic. The soldiers drove off and the Palestinians came over to us and told us not to worry. They’re employed by an engineering firm that won a tender to repair the entrance road to Sa’ir, and they were meeting to coordinate with the Civil Administrationinfo-icon 
A surprise army checkpoint at the exit from Bethlehem, a long line of cars waiting. 
At the Gush Etzion junction a white police jeep stops taxis and Palestinian cars to inspect their roadworthiness and impose fines. At the tunnel junction a long line of trucks is waiting to be inspected, and they ask for our ID’s because of the MachsomWatch sign on the car – “What’s written there in Arabic?” When the soldier sees the sign he allows us to continue.
The pillbox at Curve 160 is empty, but no Palestinian cars travel on the Tzion route – remember, that’s the route that’s supposed to be open to Palestinian traffic. 
Beit HaMeriva checkpoint – children passed through on the way to school; the soldiers are in the pillbox. 
Cave of the Patriarchs checkpoint – no one going through. There isn’t any loud music yet from Beit Gutnick, nor are there any detaineesinfo-icon. Infrastructure work continues on the road from the checkpoint to the Patriarchs' Cave, but the yellow gate is still closed. 
Soldiers at the Avraham Avinu checkpoint and the Tel Rumeida checkpoint are in their shaded concrete positions, and don’t bother the children going to school.
Tarpa”t checkpoint – Teachers pass through the opening without any problems. 
At the Pharmacy checkpoint the children’s satchels are inspected. Pregnant women and elderly people with heart problems can go through the side lane. Even if the pregnancy isn’t visible they can go through without a letter from a doctor. 
We left feeling distressed. We’ve been able to make the soldiers behave more humanely, but we haven’t succeeded in eliminating the checkpoints… So, have we cooperated with the occupation?  Have we helped maintain it? The chemistry teacher in the boys' school tells us he’s no longer being delayed at the Cave of the Patriarchs checkpoint – he no longer has to tell them that he teaches English… 
According to the owner of the grocery, since winter began the soldiers have eased up somewhat on the surprise checkpoints, and no longer erect them in the morning – We hope the rains continue!!! 
Tarqumiya: A few trucks waiting behind the line – passage was ok this morning. We weren’t asked for ID’s this morning because the inspector is from Omer, and she knows us.