A tour to eastern Gush Etzion

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Hagit (photographing and reporting) and Muhammad; Translator: Charles K.
השלטים שמפנים לשתי ההתנחלויות האלה
גוש עציון מזרח - עמדת השמירה בצומת עמוס

We entered Gush Etzion through the town of Si’ir. We entered there because before connecting to the main Si’ir-Gush Etzion road there’s a settlement we wanted to see: P’nai Kedem. We missed the turn because a pillbox is there with police and security service (Shabak) personnel erecting a checkpoint. The line was more than half an hour long. The Shabak personnel asked me endless questions and finally let me through (I told them it’s faster to reach Teqoa from there). They were pretty surprised to hear me speaking Arabic. The Palestinians told us that lately this checkpoint has been erected there daily.

We continued on Highway 356 until we saw the signs to these two settlements: Ma’aleh Amos and Ibei HaNahal. Ma’aleh Amos is being expanded. Palestinians are doing the work. A female soldier is on guard at Ibei HaNahal and accepts our answer - “An excursion” - to her question. The road is, in fact, lovely, and also reaches two Palestinian villages and the Dead Sea.

On the way we meet Hashem – we exchanged phone numbers and promised to return. He’s from ‘Arab el-Rashaideh, a Palestinian village on the way to the Dead Sea, past Ma’aleh Amos. He’s grazing his sheep near the settlement and says settlers from Ma’aleh Amos are stealing his grazing land and damage his olive groves in the valley below. They don’t let him go through to work in the groves. He asked us to keep in contact. He sent us photos of olive trees whose branches had been cut off by the settlers.

There is a guard post at the Amos junction (the junction with Highway 3157, leading to Highway 60. It goes past Efrata and Migdal Oz). On the hill near the Carmei Zur settlement the settlers erected a synagogue next to vineyards belonging to residents of Halhul and Hebron. With their synagogues as with their sheep farms, the settlers take over Palestinian land.

Today’s bottom line: Gush Etzion established at the Palestinian’s expense: occupation remains occupation remains occupation.