Bidu checkpoint, Bir Nabala (Rafat), Kafr `Aqab, Nabi Samwil, Qalandiya

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Hanna B., Natanya G. (English), Kamal (driver), Anat T.
נבי סמואל - סייעת לימוד הגננות ומזכירת בית הספר
ההמנון הפלסטיני

Nebi Samuel and the northern enclaves of Jerusalem, Qalandiya checkpoint seen from the outside

7:45 Nebi Samuel 

We went to visit the kindergarten and the elementary school in the Palestinian enclave, Nebi Samuel, between Ramot and Givat Ze'ev. We hadn't been there for a few months and we were happy to see that it was renovated by the Palestinian Authority and although the classrooms remained tiny, everything was well kept and colorful, the leaks from the roof were repaired, and the atmosphere in the school is also more cheerful. A Palestinian volunteer from Beit Hanina, who conducts workshops for growing house plants in several schools around Jerusalem, is responsible for adding the pots (financed by the Belgians). We were warmly received. 

About six months ago, several teachers complained to us that they have to go through the Qalandiya checkpoint to school and arrive at the school after a huge detour, even though they live in nearby villages with a direct road connection - all because only construction workers go through Givat Ze'ev at the Jib checkpoint. We then asked them to send us documents and we would try to help, but they did not send the necessary. This time the Palestinian volunteer promised that she would take care to deliver to us what Hanna had asked of them: a letter from the school confirming that they work there, an ID card (blue or green) and an explanatory letter. Hanna says that it is not certain that we will succeed, but we will try. 

It turns out that we arrived at the school in time for the morning preparations before the classes began. It was really nice: a short morning exercise with a song in English; Singing the Palestinian National Anthem; And a conversation with a local sheikh about the Hadith of Muhammad and the wisdom for success in the future

Anyone who thinks there is no Palestinian people is advised to look at the faces of the children singing the anthem. 

9:00 Mount Shmuel checkpoint

We were curious to see if the break in the fence which leads from the Biddu enclave (and 6 other Palestinian villages) has been closed. The break is used by the workers who are  digging the Jerusalem tunnels to improve the movement of Israelis (mainly the settlers). They have work permits, but if they travel on the "Fabrid of Life" roads, they will have to travel on congested roads to the Qalandiya checkpoint, pass it and return to work in a place very close to their village behind the separation barrier. We checked on our way back by driving part of the way - to the Qalandiya checkpoint - it took us 40 minutes at 10 am (not rush hour). 

And the update: the break is open to pedestrians. According to the passers-by, the soldiers often come here but do not stay permanently. 

Under the separation barrier passes the “Fabric of Life” road for Palestinian traffic to Ramallah and the Qalandiya checkpoint. Today because of maintenance work, the gate is open. The security is carried out by two men wearing black caps, employees of a company called "Mishmar Jerusalem" (the Jerusalem Guard) - "in the service of the border and seam management". I checked on the internet and found that its full name is "Cleaning, Security and Maintenance Company Ltd", according to the records its purpose is to "engage in any legal occupation". But it is a company that violates the law, limited, last annual report was submitted in 2015. I sent this to Hagit Ofran and Aviv Tatarsky so that they could deal with it if they think necessary. 

El Layla and Givat Ze'ev

We looked at Givat Ze'ev from the village of El Layla (whose children study with the children of Nebi Samuel). It is growing all the time in width and height. The lateral extension will surely lead it to Ma'ale Horon settlement, while imprisoning all the villages north of Jerusalem. 

Qalandiya checkpoint and the surroundings 

It took a lot of time to get through the Bir Nabala enclave (we drove, we didn't ask, they would have forbidden us to enter there even though it was area C - the soldiers are convinced it was area A). The road is long, narrow and winding and as you get closer to Kafr Aqab and Qalandiya camp, the road becomes very busy. When we arrived at the Qalandiya checkpoint roundabout, we were in the heart of a traffic jungle. We fled to the hill opposite Ar-Ram (another enclave that was sealed off by the separation wall) and watched the progress of the settlement road intended for the passage of Israelis only which is making good progress. It was difficult to assess from a distance the public transport terminal, which was written on Y-net in a propaganda article about the Atarot crossing. We wrote a piece in response (we hope they will publish it).