Issawiya – we met an angry and hating and alienated new generation that holds Israeli blue IDs

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Kamal, Netanya (English and photographer), Anat (reporter and photographer)

Issawiya, Shuafat and Anata refugee camp, Qalandiya checkpoint, Al Jib checkpoint

Relative peace prevails in East Jerusalem despite all the draconian restrictions: for a very long time, most residents of the East City have not been allowed to pray at Al Aqsa (and on Fridays only residents of the Old City over 55); There are no tourists and the old town is empty of people and Christmas decorations; The possibility of working in Jerusalem for Palestinians with work permits has been eliminated; We live in fear in a public atmosphere of "violence" that prevails in the reality of the war in Gaza. We wanted to understand how all this was swallowed up in relative quiet.

At the end of the shift, it was clear to us that the industrial silence stems from fear - of the municipality, of the police, of the army, of the livelihood that will be further damaged, of the Jewish residents of the city.

As for feelings - the identification with Hamas is absolute. We heard from the adults, denials of the October 7th massacre, and children we met stated that Al Quds is only Palestinian and has no place for Jews.

7:00 Issawiya - only sad songs and news are played on the radio of Kamal, our calm and intelligent driver. Kamal believes that the massacre at the start of the war was a conspiracy by elements from Israel who want to eliminate Gaza. We try facts - but there is no willingness to accept. He is also unwilling, unlike his custom, to participate in helping to translate conversations with Palestinians on the street, and he religiously keeps a distance from parking near the checkpoints.

Stopping at stores in Issawiya and hearing about the entry of security forces at any time, except during school hours in the morning. The owner of a vegetable shop tells us one side of a Jerusalem marriage and divorce story - a resident of Jerusalem, a Palestinian from the territories, the wife's cooperation with the police and finally divorce and the abandonment of the children. He raises them alone and the security forces constantly bother him.

Kamal drops us off at a large complex of kindergartens and elementary schools (Israeli curriculum). We meet some boys aged 10-11 on the way to classes. They don't believe at first that we are Israelis. When they are convinced, they change their tone to teasing, surround us and shout in English "ISRAEL IS "BOOTS, "EL QUDS IS JUST FOR PALESTINE". We intended to enter the school and talk to teachers as well, but the group follows us and we become uncomfortable. We met an angry and alienated new generation of Jerusalemites with a blue card.

Shuafat Refugee Camp: We passed the checkpoint into the camp. The crossing is for blue certificates only. Passengers on buses get off at a distance from the checkpoint and IDs are checked. The lane to pass by private vehicle is very congested, but pedestrian crossing has resumed.

We enter the elementary school for boys and girls near the checkpoint during morning mass. The principal comes out to us and explains that we study here in an Israeli or Palestinian study program according to the parents' choice. There are 9 classes of the Israeli program and 18 classes of the Palestinian program. The teachers come from Jerusalem. Semester break starts next week until January 9. We take a peek into the classrooms that used to be market spaces selling meat and vegetables.

The atmosphere is friendly, they know us and Kamal who lives in the neighbourhood. They ask that we not take pictures...

Driving on the Shuafat-Anata main road towards the Anata exit reveals that the road only gets worse. Bumps and potholes and a lot of dirt. The road renovation plan remained only on the sign at the entrance to the camp.

 The junction at the exit from Anata to road 437 (which leads from road 60 to the Mishor Adumim junction) turns into a very wide traffic circle (Kamal says too wide for flowing vehicle traffic). There is also an extension towards the entrance to the Almon and Anatot settlements, and also to the entrance to Apartheid Road 4370.

8:45 Jaba checkpoint, A-Ram and Qalandiya checkpoint – Jaba’ checkpoint is open. Tamar reported this week that it closes early in the morning for two or three hours.

The ride flows until you reach the Qalandiya checkpoint area. We go up to the hill at the border of the A-Ram enclave to watch the further work on the lower area of the checkpoint. It is for for Israelis only. It seems that the subsidence will pass right under the camp next to the barrier itself, so it is impossible to see if digging is done there. They must be waiting for the Chinese workers to come in place of the Palestinians who are condemned to live without work. Now in the settlements they suddenly call the builders who work for them terrorists and forbid them to enter.

Returning to the Qalandiya checkpoint, it is empty at this time. They say it is open from six to eight in the morning and from four to six in the afternoon. But there is no sign that shows the opening hours, or a phone number for inquiries. "They know", is the usual answer. We checked and found - only one route for the passage of vehicles is open continuously for vehicleular traffic, and even it closes at 5:00 p.m. The public transport route is closed, therefore bus traffic to and from Kufr Aqab (a neighbourhood within the city limits) has stopped. This route is only opened for 15 minutes in the morning, for the special education shuttle crossing.

 We leave at the passage for cars from the checkpoint to the Atarot road. It takes us 45 minutes! We are accompanied by wall paintings of longings for the past: a farmer among green hills, a boy with a key, the Dome of the Rock seems accessible and so close to those stuck at the checkpoint.

Al Jib checkpoint - this is the barrier between Givat Ze'ev and Ramot and the Bir Nabala enclave. Kamal parks far away for fear of the evil eye of the security personnel. We try to get closer on foot, but there is no way to reach the inspectors' eyes except by walking on the road which the cars take. These days, Netanya says, it is not worth taking the risk that our suspicious figures will be shot. So, we ask for clarification from a worker with a Jerusalem certificate who is returning through the checkpoint. The checkpoint is open only to those included in the list placed at the checkpoint. Neither blue card holders, nor workers with a work permit are allowed to return through it or enter through it.

הצומת ביציאה מענתא לכביש 437 (המוביל מכביש 60 לצומת מישור אדומים)  הופכת למעגל תנועה רחב מאוד (כמאל אומר רחב מדי לתנועה זורמת של רכב). יש הרחבה גם לכיוון הכניסה להתנחלויות עלמון וענתות, וגם לכניסה לכביש האפרטהייד 4370.  

8:45  מחסום ג'בע, א-ראם ומחסום קלנדיה – מחסום ג'בע פתוח. תמר דיווחה השבוע שנסגר בבוקר מוקדם לשעתיים-שלוש.
הנסיעה זורמת עד שמגיעים לאזור מחסום קלנדיה. עולות לגבעה בגבול מובלעת א-ראם לצפות בהמשך העבודות על השיקוע שייתר את המחסום לישראלים בלבד. נראה שהשיקוע יעבור ממש מתחת למחנה הצמוד למחסום עצמו ולכן אי אפשר לראות אם חופרים שם. בטח מחכים לפועלים הסינים שיבואו במקום הפלסטינים שנגזר עליהם לחיות בלי עבודה. עכשיו בהתנחלויות קוראים פתאום לבנאים שעובדים אצלם מחבלים ואוסרים עליהם להיכנס.

חוזרות למחסום קלנדיה, הוא ריק בשעה זו. אומרים שהוא פתוח משש עד שמונה בבוקר ומארבע עד שש אחהצ. אבל אין שום שלט שכתוב עליו שעות פתיחה, או טלפון לבירורים. "הם יודעים", היא התשובה הרגילה. בדקנו ומצאנו – רק מסלול אחד למעבר כלי רכב פתוח ברציפות לתנועת כלי רכב, ואף הוא נסגר ב-17:00. מסלול התחבורה הציבורית סגור, על כן פסקה תנועת האוטובוסים לכפר עקב (שכונה בתוך הגבול העירוני) וממנו. מסלול זה נפתח אך ורק ל-15 דקות בבוקר, למעבר הסעות החינוך המיוחד.

אנחנו יוצאות במעבר הרכב מהמחסום לכביש עטרות. לוקח לנו 45 דקות! מלווים אותנו ציורי קיר של משאת נפש: פלאחים בין גבעות מוריקות, ילד עם מפתח, מסגד כיפת הסלע נראה נגיש וקרוב כל כך לתקועים במחסום.

מחסום אל ג'יב – זה המחסום החוצץ בין גבעת זאב ורמות למובלעת ביר נבאללה. כמאל חונה רחוק מחשש עין רעה של אנשי הביטחון. אנחנו מנסות להתקרב ברגל, אבל אין דרך להגיע לעיני הבודקים אלא בצעדה חשופה על הכביש. בימים אלה, מסבירה נתניה, לא כדאי להסתכן שיירו בדמויותינו החשודות.  אז מבקשים הבהרה מפועל  בעל תעודה ירושלמית שחוזר דרך המחסום. המחסום פתוח רק לאלו הכלולים ברשימה המונחת במחסום. לא בעלי תעודה כחולה, ולא פועלים בעלי רישיון עבודה מורשים לחזור דרכו, או להיכנס דרכו.