Abu Dis, Jerusalem, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Thu 29.11.12, Morning

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Rahel M., Shosh H., Michaela R. (reporting)




In general
It's a week after Pillar of Defence, and tonight Abu Mazen will address the UN General Assembly with the request to recognize the State of Palestine.  Tension among security forces is palpable.  On the Palestinian side, indifference and continuing routine.
6:45 Sheikh Saed
Few crossing, mostly children who are not checked. The corridor is mostly empty.
At 6:53 a group of some  twenty men (merchants) enters the corridor, but they must wait another 7 minutes because their permits say 7:00.  Meantime a long line forms.  The magnometer beeps wildly, whether because someone has forgotten a coin in his pocket or because a winter garment conceals a piece of metal... or a knife or...
At 7:00 the merchants start to cross.  As though up till then they were terrorists and then at the stroke of 7:00 (like Cinderella) they become innocent.  Security above all!  Wouldn't it make better sense to let the merchants cross while the checkpoint is empty and ease the pressure which otherwise overwhelms both those crossing and those checking?
7:30 Olive Terminal
A metal fence has been added in front of the checkpoint on the Israeli side, for no obvious purpose -- perhaps some sub-contractor has connections in the relevant offices for earning a contract for unnecessary work.
At the checkpoint, only one track is operative, and of course a line forms.  When a second track is opened the line shortens rapidly.
I displayed my ID and moved on, but one of the soldiers called me back for further checking.  After scrutinizing my ID carefully, he asked if I was Jewish.  I answered that the question was irrelevant, I was Israeli.  In response, the soldier closed the turnstile, delaying me and the rest of the line behind me while he made feverish phone calls, and then let me cross a few minutes later without further explanation.
Za"hal Square
Border policewomen checking documents of Arab women.