Yellow numbers have been painted on all the houses in the Twilight Zone in Dahiet al-Bariid, between The Wall and a very miserable checkpoint (commonly known as the ar-Ram checkpoint).
Soldiers came in the night, around 9 p.m. or so, about a week ago, and knocked on all the apartment doors, asking who lived there. A friend who works with the UN calls it a “census”.
The soldiers were said to be particularly interested in looking for anyone who has West Bank IDs.
The landlord said that the neighbors — including two Israeli lawyers from the north — spoke to them, because they know how to speak. They just wanted to know who had West Bank IDs. The soldiers, too, were polite, the neighbors-who-are-lawyers reportedly said.
Nobody in our building has a West Bank ID — all are either Israeli or have (East) Jerusalem IDs, meaning they are legal permanent residents of Israel. Some of the other neighbors are members of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset.
But in one of the neighboring buildings — I do not know which one — there is said to be at least one person or family who has a West Bank ID.
The landlord said that the lawyers in our building thought the soldiers were going to look for a way to get a permit for those who have West Bank IDS to continue to live in their houses in our area, now that it has been clearly demarcated by The Wall as being part of Jerusalem (though that was absolutely, crystal clear, well over a year ago.) But, a friend who works in the UN said that the soldiers told other people in the neighborhood (who have Jerusalem IDs), to tell anyone with a West Bank ID that they have 20 days to move … to the West Bank.
The friend said that the Israeli military liaison office said that the gate in The Wall will be closed either today or tomorrow. (It was not closed today.) But the Israeli military liaison has not given any answer to the UN’s questions about when the checkpoint will be removed…
Apparently, the checkpoint will remain, even after the gate is closed. That will trap everyone, with only one way out — through a very miserable checkpoint. The intention, we suppose, is that sooner or later, this will “flush out” anyone with West Bank IDs. There may also be further house-to-house searches…
At the beginning of last September, as we reported here, the U.S. Consulate apparently wrote to the headmaster of the Jerusalem International School which had just relocated to Dahiet al-Bariid to give reassurances that the checkpoint would be removed in twenty days!
Twenty days seems to be a figure that resonates.
In any case, six months later, six months after the last gap in The Wall was closed by a 9-meter high concrete guardtower, and the checkpoint is still there.
So, twenty days from now, after the gate across the road that used to be the main road between Jerusalem and Ramallah, the checkpoint may very likely still be there as well, making everybody miserable.
But, nobody has any real information. This is what it is like, here. There are only rumors.
The only positive development is that the ugly red sign — the one I have complained about, which says that this neighborhood, a normal neighborhood, is a “military zone” and that anyone who enters there “ENDANGERS HIS LIFE” — is now gone.