Jerusalem’s central/southern CPs are shutdown ם !

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Natanya G. (English), Kamal the driver, Anat T. (Reporting and photographing)

Two days of shutting down the southern and central Jerusalem checkpoints, relocating the Wallaja checkpoint, the Bethlehem checkpoint and the Rachel's Tomb complex, Abu Dis and At-Tur, the Olive checkpoint

The big news was the shutdown of the central and southern Jerusalem checkpoints yesterday (1.8.23), probably due to the failure of the computer system for the identification and permit checks. Initially it was reported that only the Bethlehem checkpoint was shut down from the morning until the afternoon hours, but when we arrived at the shift, we were told that the Olive checkpoint and the Shuafat checkpoint were also closed. Many waited in the sweltering heat for hours hoping that the checkpoints would open automatically, despite the notices of the announcement that directed the workers to the Lamed Heh checkpoint or to Qalandiya. These two checkpoints are very far away and require at least half an hour's drive in an expensive taxi (and add time in traffic jams). The result was great suffering for the Palestinians: long queues in the heat and losing a day of work and a permit day. Who cares.

And just to make this clearer - Kamal the driver informed us that on Thursday, August 3, 23, the checkpoints were closed again in the entire area. Are we unbelievers that we think: Is this a recurring glitch? Or some new computer organization of the new supervisors of the Civil Administrationinfo-icon?

6:00 Wallaja checkpoint - Natanya and Shlomit have already reported on the existing barrier being moved in the direction of Wallaja, so as to block the entrance of Palestinians to Haniyeh National Park (Emek Refaim), where the residents used to gather for fairs and celebrations, also meetings of Palestinians and Israelis. Already a few years ago, the separation wall cut off access to the agricultural lands of the village (as it also cut off access to the cultivation of the private plots, except for 2-3 entries per year.) We went to oversee the preparations and take an exact location.

Well, the old checkpoint is still operational and only earthworks are being done at the new location. But the sign promises that it will open in November 2023. At the time, legal petitions were filed against the removal of the barrier, and the work was stopped - but now, who cares about the decisions of the courts? By the way, we heard in the news that the Yehuda Mountains Ein Haniyeh National Park is among the national parks that will implement gender segregation for the benefit of the public...

  (Look at the attached pictures with explanations)

6:20 At Bethlehem checkpoint crowds of workers are marching towards Jerusalem. The huge traffic circle at the exit to Hebron Road was congested. Why is it so big and the road so narrow? The traffic light from the checkpoint towards Jerusalem is green for only 15 seconds, and the red light that allows traffic from the tunnel road works for 2 minutes. Kamal the driver says that there are many such traffic lights with poor synchronization. We asked him to do a survey for us...

At the checkpoint the people pass with closed and bitter faces.  The humanitarian crossing is open. The commander explains how hard they had worked to take care of the problem and open the checkpoint yesterday. Then we found that the day after the shift it happened again, and also two weeks ago there was a malfunction of about two hours in the morning hours.  We need to follow up on this.

Rachel's Tomb Complex: We have already written about the ugliness of the complex: the surrounding high walls; the long concrete structure that hides the picturesque dome; the small and crowded women's hall compared to the large men's area; The yeshiva and the settlement attached to it. Apparently, the settlement is expanding: prefab buildings are densely placed, garbage everywhere, discarded bicycles, a circle of older ultra-Orthodox and eager yeshiva students huddled around an old rabbi, huddled together. As for scanning a site for free special prayers, no money. And one boy is sitting outside alone and crying.  The father comes with a piece of cake and says that the child feels at home, they even sleep here. Why? Natanya asks and he answers with a defiant smile, perhaps ironically (I answer, I know you all think like that): we don’t have to work, we get the money from the state. We are horrified at this Shtetl attitude. It saddens me that we feel this way.

(Look at the attached pictures with explanations)

Driving through the southern American highway to the north, passing Jabel Mukaber (several houses were destroyed yesterday), Ras al-Amud, Abu Dis, At-Tur. The road is bumpy and very narrow, but not really crowded today. We drove to the Olive checkpoint, which is far from any Jerusalem neighbourhood. The guy at the kiosk selling mobile calling cards tells us about yesterday's catastrophe. People waited and waited, he says. They opened once at nine in the morning for an hour and then closed until the end of the day. The queues now, after eight in the morning, are not long. The Palestinians try to talk to the soldier at the window through the armoured glass, but what did we expect: the loudspeakers in the connection are muted as usual and there is no possibility of dialogue between inspector and subject. The DCO representative here will only return to open at nine o'clock. We left.