I wrote this before, but seeing is believing.
And, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Ladies and gentlemen, anyone entering my little neighborhood is putting his/her life at risk.
The sign reads:
MORTAL DANGER – MILITARY ZONE
ANY PERSON WHO ENTERS OR DAMAGES THE FENCE
ENDANGERS HIS LIFE
A lawyer might say this sign gives rather broad discretionary powers to those administering this checkpoint by military force.
My neighbors here, and I, and the drivers and passengers of literally thousands of cars a day, are all in mortal danger in this area, even if just going home.
We are so informed by this little sign at the checkpoint (usually referred to as the ar-Ram checkpoint) which is supposed to control traffic going OUT — in the direction of downtown Jerusalem.
This little red sign — in three languages: Hebrew first, then Arabic, AND THEN English — used to be put up only during total closures of the West Bank. Those total closures happen during every Jewish and/or Israeli holiday, and during events such as … peace negotiations.
Now, this sign declaring some unspecified area around it as a “MILITARY ZONE” (though not a closed military zone) is up ALL THE TIME.
This checkpoint is in Jerusalem.
The checkpoint is ostensibly placed here because The Wall is still open up the hill (see yesterday’s post, below).
It might be dismantled soon. Or, it might not be dismantled.
Nobody who lives here knows anything, of course, because people who are affected by these checkpoints and this WALL are never informed of anything that is about to happen, no matter how much it will impact their lives. They are not given the simple respect of clear information.
But common wisdom is that The Wall will be completely closed within the next ten days. And then, this checkpoint is supposed to be dismantled.
This amazing development might, then, be presented to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a success story — a checkpoint dismantled.
So far, maybe 60 out of some 600 checkpoints have been very reluctantly dismantled, months after the Annapolis process began. (Other checkpoints, however, have been reinforced, and expanded.) These checkpoints make life absolutely miserable for tens of thousands of people — or more — each and every day.
However, if I were a betting person, I’d bet that this checkpoint will stay — though there would no longer be any rationale for it.
Here’s how the checkpoint looks while coming from downtown Jerusalem. Normally there is no check for anyone entering this area — but of course there is the little red sign warning that this is a military zone, and that anyone entering is in mortal danger:
Once you’re in this little Twilight Zone, between the checkpoint and, up the hill, the still-open gap in The Wall, there is an Israeli military observation post, at the huge administrative complex located beside Neve Ya’acov (inhabited mainly by Canadian and/or religious Jews), just to keep an eye on things:
And, here’s how the checkpoint looks for those trying to get out of the area, to go to downtown Jerusalem.
Luckily, there are not too many cars waiting. Sometimes there are twenty or thirty or more — and it can take several minutes per car, even at the best of times.