Abu Dis, Sheikh Saed, Thu 7.2.08, Morning
Michaela R., Shira V. (reporting)
06:35 Sheikh Saed
A few grown ups are waiting to go through, and pass one by one, while their bags and IDs are being checked. A person who starts moving down the long and winding slope towards the shed before the person before him finished, gets a long educating series, and is sent back to wait in line. Later on there were other people going through who got explanations about "how to behave properly"in a didactic tone.
Some of the people were not allowed to go through. We have not seen this in a long time. Is it hardenning of the rules?
One of the Palestinians passed there and identified us as Machsom Watch, and told us there will be a hearing of Sheikh Saed in court on Tuesday, 12.2.2008, at 09:00 in the morning.
Another Palestinian told us that today there is a BP man at the checkpoint called N., and he abuses children.
Within about 20 minutes school children of all ages started flowing into the checkpoint. Without any connection to how tiny they are, they were requested to open their bags and show the content, while N. (he had a name tag on his uniform) behaved in a contemptuous way to those going through, and were talking rudely to them, through the process of letting them through.
There where other BP men and a civil guard in the checkpoint, and the dynamics among them showed clearly that N. is the one in charge.
We saw a group of school children trying to go through, and then return and wait not far from the checkpoint.
At some point two school girls started to argue with N., while one of them tells him angrily, in Arabic, that she has to go do a test. We tried to understand from the people who went through what the problem was, and understood that the problem is the age. Until sixteen years of age the pupils go through presenting their birth certificate only. Above this age they need an ID and a permit.
We understood that there are pupils in this or other place on the connecting line that are above 16, who don't have an ID and a permit yet (some people were talking about a special permit that the school headmistress has to get in order that the whole process will pull through. Usually they are allowed to go through, but since the commander of the checkpoint is not present, they have no chance.
After a short search we found out that there is a girl among them who is under sixteen. We contacted E., who is in charge of the DCO who promised us to find out what happens. While we were connecting with E., we saw the birth certificate of the girl, that showed that she is under sixteen, but it was written in Arabic, including the digits, and therefor it was not possible to show it to the soldier in charge. WE spoke with E. again, and after he took her ID number and other details, he spoke with N. and the later asked on of the soldiers (who supposedly identifies Arabic digits), to check the birth certificate, and then, after an hour of waiting (on a day of a test) he let her pass. Out of the group of boys he let another boy go through with her, because he is under sixteen (we asked them who is under sixteen and asked him to try and go through).
One should know that the girl looked older than her age, and we think that the soldier in charge relied only on his opinion, and since he could not read Arabic decided arbitrarily that she will not go through, without finding out her real age. About the boy who went through, his birth certificate stated his birthday in Latin digits so there was no obvious reason to prevent him from passing, and this is especially distressing.
In addition, the friend of that girl who is sixteen and two months (we saw in her birth certificate that she was born on December 1991) could not go through despite her trials, and despite her mother's beggings.
There were a few vehicles parked on the Israeli side. A woman with a few children went across the checkpoint (on foot) towards Jerusalem. Apart from that, the checkpoint is quiet.
09:15 back to Shekh Saed
The checkoint is empty. A man and a woman were carrying on their arms children whose legs were put in cast and were walking towards a van that waited on the western side of the checkpoint. We did not see how they had coped with the three carousels and the twisting and narrow road with their heavy load. The boy that we left at the side of Sheikh Saed, and the girl with her mother who had pleaded with the soldiers to let them go through disappeared.