They long, they yearn, to pray in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque – on the last Friday in Ramadan

This is a great photo by ActiveStills, posted on this, the last Friday in Ramadan 2012, here.

Activestills in Ar Ram on 17 August 2012

Unusually, this year, because of the way the calendar fell, Ramadan has five Fridays this year — and today is the most important.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has adopted more lenient rules this year for passage for prayer during Ramadan —  because, the IDF said,  of “the calm” — than in any year since the construction of The Wall [that the Israeli Ministry of Defense constructed for “security” reasons, meaning to separate Palestinians in the West Bank from Jerusalem and from Israel]…

But, these improved rules still say that only Palestinians under 16 years of age, or over 40 years of age, will be permitted to enter Jerusalem on the Fridays in Ramadan to worship.

Everybody else will have to try to apply for a permit — and that is almost impossible to obtain.

So, for the young men shown in this photo, they have no real prospect of entering Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa for anything up to 22 or 23 years from now!

Continue reading They long, they yearn, to pray in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque – on the last Friday in Ramadan

Dahiet al-Bariid in Al-Monitor

Dahiet al-Bariid, as we’ve written before, is divided in two by Israel’s Wall.

Al-Monitor posted three photos of The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid as part of a photo album on ten years of The Wall, published here. This photo shows The Wall as it runs up Ahmad Orabi street, dividing Dahiet al-Bariid into two parts, one on the “Jerusalem” side, and one in the West Bank:
Photos on Israel's Wall at 10 years published by Al-Monitor
Al-Monitor’s caption for this photo reads: “Two boys walk along the wall and past an army watchtower in Dahiat Al-Barid, a West Bank neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (photo by Sophie Claudet, Al-Monitor)”.

Yes, well, this exact spot has been granted, after an appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court [an appeal filed by some of the residents of this neighborhood, led by the Christian institutions there], has been ruled to be part of “Jerusalem” [meaning, Greater Jerusalem Municipality, which was created unilaterally by Israel a few weeks after the June 1967 War by carving out a crescent of West Bank neighborhoods running in an arc from Ramallah in the north almost to Bethlehem in the south, all around the Old City of East Jerusalem].

In February 2009, six months after the IDF military watchtower which can hardly been seen in this photo was put in place [in September 2008], sealing this part of The Wall, the IDF removed the awful ar-Ram checkpoint which was down the hill, making movement much easier into Jerusalem.

For the six long months between September 2008 and February 2009, there was only one way in and out, which was through the ar-Ram checkpoint, and at least 30 minutes waiting before leaving, even if only to go to the pharmacy or to buy some fresh vegetables or meat.

The military watchtower [“pillbox” was installed, in a terrible slow ballet choreographed under armed guard while 3 huge round cylinders were slowly driven out of Neve Yaakov, just up the street. It was the beginning of September [and the beginning of Ramadan 2008], and some members of a family were trapped in the “New Mosque” on the Jerusalem side. The armed guards told everybody watching to “go home and watch Baab al-Hara” [a popular Syrian miniseries playing for Ramadan]. But after about an hour, they eventually relented, and opened the doors on the two sides of the cylindrical military watchtower, so the father and his daughter could all make it home.

From that moment, there was no longer any direct passage to the West Bank, and to do that all traffic was redirected to the already-congested and truly terrible Qalandia Checkpint.

Continue reading Dahiet al-Bariid in Al-Monitor

A raid down the hill, last Sunday — this doesn't happen all the time, like this

I was driving to Ramallah last Sunday, a sunny day, about 1:30 in the afternoon.

The traffic is usually bad at that time in the narrow winding pot-hold streets of Dahiet al-Bariid, where there are two important private schools letting out students at the same time, just as students from the Israeli-run East Jerusalem public school system are coming home at the same hour, more or less.

You really have to plan your day carefully in Palestinian areas, and particularly to know when schools are letting out students.

But, last Sunday it was worse than usual.

Dahiet al-Bariid is a triangle of land in north Jerusalem, divided in two by the Israeli-built Wall which comes straight down the middle of what used to be the main street between Jerusalem and Ramallah, carving out an Israeli-run industrial zone [Atarot] on one side, and closing in the Palestinian suburb of Ar-Ram on the other side.   The route of the wall would have enclosed most of the area’s hill, Jabal as-Sumoud  — except that the Rosary Sister’s School and various other Christian institutions saw what was about to happen as the construction proceeded confidently and inexorably south.  They petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court, and said they did not want to be cut off from Jerusalem, which was the center of their faith and life here.  The Supreme Court granted the petition, and in compliance with this Court decision, the Israeli Army re-routed the Wall sharply right at the lowest point in the area, to make a right turn and head up the hill, several hundred meters more north than apparently first planned.

Though the Supreme Court ruling has been made, the Israeli military has not yet incorporated the area into the Greater Jerusalem Municipality it defined in late June 1967… and most of this area is regarded, at least in military terms, as a “Seam Zone”.

When I got down to the traffic circle at the bottom of the steep hill, I suddenly saw why everything was blocked: in the midst of the normal chaos and traffic jam, there was a major Israeli border police raid going on.

It was not immediately clear which building was targetted — the building with multiple internal apartments separately housing all members of East Jerusalem’s most successful family of money-changers, whose office is located in downtown East Jerusalem’s main thoroughfare, Salah ad-Din Street, run down and crowded, un-posh to be sure, but the local equivalent of the Champs-Elysees, or Fifth Avenue.

Or, was it the office building next door, where a number of NGOs, lawyers, and other East Jerusalem entities have space?

There were many, many vehicles, and many, many men in combat uniforms with big guns standing out on the street. What looked like an armoured jeep was parked right up in the middle of the traffic circle, with a big soldier in combat posture + gun standing beside it, looking up at one of the buildings. Alongside the road, on what might in other places actually be sidewalks, there were more military vehicles, and more armed men in uniforms of various colors. What was going on? And, why?

It took me several days and a number of phone calls to find out.

Before the news was published, one experienced attorney told me it was just a “tax raid”, which happens regularly — it’s just that, to outsiders, he said, when these “tax raids” are in East Jerusalem, “they look like Chuck Norris movies”.

Finally, I called the offices of the Arab Studies Society — formerly, under the late Faisal Husseini, based in his Orient House further downtown, but relocated to Dahiet al-Bariid after Israeli authorities shut down the building housing a number of Husseini-backed organizations. Someone in that office said that the Border Police raided a nearby office rented out to the Northern Islamic Alliance, and arrested a man inside [Sheikh Raed Salah, who has Israeli citizenship and who is now fighting a deportation decision in Britain, is a member of the group].

News agencies and the Israeli media did not report the story right away. It took a couple of days, and the reports varied. It’s not clear why there was a delay in reporting.

Most of the few media reports said that not just one but two, or maybe even three, offices had been raided, and shut down [one of the offices was not in this area, but in Shu’afat village, more south, and closer to downtown Jerusalem], and one or more people arrested.

By Tuesday — two days after the raid — Agence France Presse reported that Israeli national police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told them: ” ‘The Israeli police closed down two offices… that were suspected of being used by the Hamas and the PFLP’ … The office which was allegedly being used by Hamas was in the northern Dahiyat al-Barid neighbourhood, while the premises being used by the PFLP were located in Shuafat, police said. But Khaled Zabarqa, who runs Jerusalem for Development, a local housing association which is based in the Dahiyat al-Barid office, said he was ‘surprised’ by the move and denied the organisation had any ties with Hamas. ‘We have no links to Hamas. We are a development institution which closes the (social) gaps left by the (Jerusalem) municipality in the Arab sector, which carries out renovations and helps families’, he told AFP, saying the organisation was seeking legal redress over the closure. ‘We are operating in accordance with the law’.” This story is posted here.

Haaretz, normally considered a left-liberal media platform, took a more serious and alarmist approach, reporting with a perfectly straight face that “Israeli police forces on Tuesday raided three buildings in Jerusalem allegedly being used by Palestinian militants for illegal activities. The raids were carried out based on intelligence gathered by the Shin Bet security services. Two of the buildings, loacted Dahiyat al-Barid neighborhood in north Jerusalem, were suspected of serving as a center for Hamas militants, while a third building in the Shuafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem was allegedly being used by militants from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Officers from the Border Police and Jerusalem district police found numerous documents in the buildings, indicating that illegal activity had indeed taken place there. Israel Police Commissioner Yonatan Danino signed an order immediately to seal the documents away for a month. The three buildings have been shut down The raids come two months after Jerusalem Police shut down a kindergarten in the Abu Tor neighborhood, citing classified intelligence that the site ‘was meant to serve as a place of terror activity’.” This Haaretz report is posted here.

UPDATE: More than a week later, Haaretz gave more details, and reported [on 1 November] — or, perhaps asserted is a better word, that “The first institution to close down was a Jerusalem branch of Al-Quds Development which was run by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, headed by Sheikh Ra’ad Salah. According to intelligence, the branch was run in cooperation with senior Hamas operatives who are citizens of East Jerusalem [n.b. — excuse me, but no one is a citizen of East Jerusalem, which is still not an independent state. Israelis are often a bit careless with this word, at least in relation to East Jerusalem, where most Palestinians have permanent resident status, but no citizenship at all — and if they obtain any citizenship other than Israeli or Jordanian, their residency status is revoked]. The second institution was the company Jobs without Borders. According to intelligence collected by the Shin Bet, the company was operated by Hamas and the company directors are Hamas officials, citizens of East Jerusalem. Last, the security forces closed down the offices of Sa’ad, an educational development company in Kafr Aqab in northern East Jerusalem. According to the Shin Bet, the institution belongs to Hamas, which has been active in the neighborhood for more than a year and a half. The company’s managers are prominent Hamas officials, also residents of East Jerusalem”. This report, a week after the raid, is posted here

By chance, a Machsom [Hebrew word for “checkpoint”] Watch team was on its way, around 3 pm on the Sunday of the raid, to their usual observation tour at Qalandia checkpoint, perhaps a kilometer north of where the raid took place.

The women on the team, experienced veterans who have seen all kinds of things at checkpoints and along the roads in the West Bank, as well as at military courts and prisons, were astonished. They stopped their car, and got out to take a look…

Tamar Fleishman, a member of the team, reported that the raid took several hours, and she and her colleagues stayed until it was over.

Here is her account, with her photos:

    “During the afternoon hours a group of Mistaarvim [n.b. – Israeli undercover plainclothes police units, ususally of Arab origin. who are initially assumed to be “locals”] who had their faces covered, protected by the Yasam [the Special Forces of the Israeli Border Police], broke the office door of attorney Kaadan at Dahiat El Barid.

    Within seconds Attorney Kaadan found himself on the floor with two rifles’ barrels pointing at his head. His breath and complexion were back to normal only several hours after the attack. The invaders dismantled the alarm system, sprayed black paint on the security cameras, inspected the files and cabinets [n.b. – throwing a lot of things around in the process and creating a mess] and left the place after three hours and ten minutes.

    They took away with them:
    1. Two detainees (a person who works at the office and a client).
    2. The office computers.
    3. The memory from the cameras and the alarm system”.

Report and photos by Machsom Watch’s Tamar Fleishman, on the
23 October mid-afternoon raid of what Israeli police later said was
a “Hamas office” in north Jerusalem.

More car harassment in Dahiet al-Bariid

At 7:45 in the morning on Sunday — it was Easter morning, which is not only a Christian holiday, it is also a Palestinian national and religious holiday, according to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad — my doorbell began to ring, loudly and insistently.

Finally, leaving the bolt latched, I opened the door a crack. It was a man, I didn’t know him, who was speaking Arabic.

The Imam from the Mosque across the street sent him, he explained, to ask me to move my car. Yes.

Otherwise, the man said, a truck either would hit my car, or had already hit my car, and move it from its place.

I did not know him, I did not know what was going on outside, and I did not take the risk to go out and find out.

More than that, I did not know who told him that the car was my car, or who sent him to the exact door — the names are not marked, and very few people know exactly which door to ring. The entrance door, which is supposed to be locked, is almost always open, wide open, as it apparently was at that moment (unless, of course, someone opened the door to let him in).

UPDATE: I called the landlord when the doorbell was rung so many times, but he did not answer for 30 hours. (He then phoned to wish me Happy Easter, he said, though it was a day and night later.)

After I called the landlord, I called a taxi driver who helps me, who said he was not nearby but would come to check later what was going on outside. (As far as I know, he did not come. He called me Tuesday just after noon to ask what was happening, and explained he had been busy on Sunday because he was installing air conditioning in his house, as it was very hot last year…)

When the landlord called me Monday night, he said that when he had arrived at the building at midday Sunday, people from the mosque told him they had asked me to move my car, but I didn’t.

He told me that he told them they could come more easily from the other direction.

He also told me that they could have asked me in advance. (But, I told him, if they had done that, and I had not parked in my place, then someone else would have parked there…which wouldn’t have solved the matter for the people in the mosque, if indeed that was the real problem and not something else. My neighbors do take my space whenever it is convenient for them. And they allow their visitors to park in my space, too… Some people apparently find this quite amusing, but it can quickly turn nasty.)

But, he said, they were just nice people who were only asking me a favor…

In fact, as is clear, it was never necessary to ask me to move my car.

[And, I couldn’t understand why my landlord was calling me 30 hours later… his behavior on the phone was not normal, and my friend Nuha Musleh was sitting beside me when I received this call, and heard my end of the conversation.]

Who decided that asking me to go out to move the car is what to do to make things more convenient for them? Who told them to go ring my doorbell? Who told them which door to ring? And, if the outside door was closed, as it is supposed to be — though almost certainly it was not — who would have opened it for them?

Harassment often starts when people with a motive then encourage [incite] other people with other motives… and the whole thing can quickly flare up, and get out of control.

Three flat tires on my car: one Dahiet al-Bariid morning

About ten days ago, as I was headed off to a conference in memory of Ibrahim Abu Lughod at Bir Zeit University (outside Ramallah), I was only able to get about 75 meters to my destination.


My leased car, which had been parked on the street, suddenly had three flat tires, all at once.

Of course, it was not an accident.

All three tires had the cap removed from the air valve.

Two of the tires, it turned out, had been slashed.

One result: I never got to the conference at Bir Zeit University…

Yes, this is the same neighborhood in Dahiet al-Bariid (on the JERUSALEM side of The Wall) where I received death threats, written (in Arabic) on the windshield and (in English) on the window of driver’s side of the car, in August 2009. [Our earlier report in that is posted here…]

This is about 150 meters or so from the observation towers of the IDF Central Command Headquarters in Neve Yaakov. It is around the corner from Ahmad Tibi’s house. It is up one level from the World Bank office in Jerusalem (East Jerusalem).

Note: Before The Wall came here, they used to say the World Bank was in ar-Ram, and this was the supposedly “neutral” place where the Geneva Initiative people used to meet every month, the Israeli team and the Palestinian team. All that is now gone, long gone…

As The Wall was being constructed, almost all of Dahiet al-Bariid was going to be immured. Most of Dahiet al-Bariid (except for some meters of land down by the road going to Atarot and Qalandia, ending around the “jisr” where the water pipes come from Ramallah) was just outside (but immediately adjacent to) the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality” boundaries drawn unilaterally by Israel after its conquest in the June 1967 war. When it became evident that The Wall would sever the neighborhood from Jerusalem, a number of residents and the Christian institutions in the southern part of the neighborhood petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to stay in Jerusalem. The Israeli Supreme Court said yes, apparently before I came here, and now takes this decision into account when dealing with any problems in this area. But the Israeli military did not make the changes on the ground that would enact this Supreme Court decision. Even after The Wall was closed here, at the beginning of September 2008, the “ar-Ram” checkpoint still remained in place until mid-February 2009. During that terrible time, there was no way in or out except through that miserable “ar-Ram” checkpoint, which was a particularly and notoriously bad one. Everytime you needed fresh food, or medicine, you had to get in line at the checkpoint, for at least half an hour, and be subject to teeth-grinding, stomach-pain humilation. On the day the “ar-Ram” checkpoint was finally removed, the Commander of Qalandia Checkpoint was there (“Captain Uri”), and I asked him what the status of the neighborhood was, now — was it finally and clearly Jerusalem, I asked? Who said that? he asked. The Israeli Supreme Court, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, I replied. “No”, he told me, “this is a Kaf ha-Teva” (“manteqa tamas”, or seam zone), “We have to let the negotiators do their work”…

Well, that could take a good long time.

Meanwhile, no law authority comes to this neighborhood, though it seems to be under the jurisdiction of the Israeli police in Binyamina, on the other side of the Hizma checkpoint, on Road 60 in the West Bank — though the police officers there don’t readily admit responsibility, and don’t know the area, because they apparently never come here.

For the moment, that’s all I have to say.

If Haiti's capital was condemned by loose building codes, what about Ramallah + E. Jlem?

The McClatchy newspaper group published an article yesterday from Port au-Prince, the earthquake-devastated capital of the Carribean nation of Haiti (one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere) reporting that a “Lack of construction codes sealed Haitian capital’s fate”.

Actually, this story is repeated nearly every time there has been a major, catastrophic urban earthquake.

Living here, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, watching frenetic Palestinian construction activities with little or no supervision or overall planning, the issue of what will happen in the event of a catastrophe often comes to mind.

Continue reading If Haiti's capital was condemned by loose building codes, what about Ramallah + E. Jlem?

Death threats in Dahiet al-Bariid

Today, the first day of Ramadan, I found writing (again) on my car — two lines written large in the dust that accumulated overnight on the windshield of the car I rent. The lines contained the word/name “Allah”, and looking like a verse from the Qur’an or a saying from the Hadith. I was in a hurry, didn’t pay attention, and cleaned it off, so I could drive to my appointments in Ramallah.

What I didn’t notice, until later in the day, were the words that had been also been written in English on the window on the driver’s side: “WE WILL KILL YOU SO GO FROM HERE“.

And in Dahiet al-Bariid …

More to follow from my own reporting on the closure of the checkpoint …

Meanwhile, here is what the United Nations OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) has reported: “Closure of Dahiyat Al Bareed checkpoint – On 19 February, the Israeli military dismantled Ar Ram checkpoint in northern Jerusalem after the checkpoint became redundent following the closure of the gate in the barrier between Dahiat al Bareed and Ar Ram on 16 February. While the removal of the checkpoint and the related checkpoint infrastructure will now allow free movement on road 1 between downtown Jerusalem and Qalandiya checkpoint, the closure has greatly increased the volume of traffic moving north through Qalandiya checkpoint. Ar Ram Checkpoint permitted access into Jerusalem only for residents of the immediate area around the checkpoint, but did not control north-bound (direction of Ar Ram) traffic from Jerusalem. All vehicles travelling to Ar Ram are now forced to travel through Qalandiya checkpoint. Delays of half an hour or longer are now regularly reported for travel north through Qalandiya checkpoint.” The full document is posted on the web here.

My neighbors are being immured

It’s Thursday evening. I arrived home about 7:00 pm (two hours ago) to find a huge construction machine (LIEBHERR, as it happens, and not CATERPILLAR) and a military deployment, just up the street. Right now, they are working right near my house to close the gap in The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid that has been left open for the last year.

The military arrived with arms between 3:00 and 4:00 pm this afternoon, the neighbors say, and there are jeeps blocking the road on both sides of what has been for over a year one of the few gaps in The Wall between what is Jerusalem and what is the West Bank (as unilaterally decided by the Israeli military).

But, after five hours, the atmosphere is more like a street carnival now, with kids running around everywhere, and the military is almost (but not quite) giving out chocolates…

At an earlier moment, when things were getting slightly tense, one of the armed Palestinian security guards pushed back a group of people, shouting in Arabic: “Go home and watch Bab al-Hara“! (Bab al-Hara is a television series that everybody watches in Ramadan about life in pre-Independence Syria, with sets that idealize beautiful old Syrian homes…)

The engineer for this closure project, who said he only speaks Russian and Hebrew (+ a few words of English), said the closure will be completed tonight.

He asked for translation help from one of the Palestinian guards/workers who has been here for a couple of weeks (see my previous post about the gap being blocked while the street along The Wall on the Jerusalem side was being paved). That Palestinian worker said his brother has gone to demonstrations in Bil’in against The Wall every Friday for the last for years, despite their mother’s pleas.

So, finally, my neighbors in Dahiet al-Bariid on the other side of The Wall are being immured, and it looks like all of us — even those of us who are on the Jerusalem side of Dahiet al-Bariid, will be living from now on in an open air prison, with guard towers for armed military watchers to keep their eyes on us from both ends of our street…

UPDATE: At about 9:20 this evening, after the evening prayers in the new mosque across the street from my house, a family of perhaps 6 approached the closure in The Wall. There were four girls in their prayer costume (wearing a poncho-like document that completely exposes their faces) and one guy (their father) in a long dark beige gown and rubber thongs (with white socks!) — they must have seen the work that was going on at The Wall. What was anybody thinking about when they went through? After a lot of threats, and waving of weapons (by one of the Border Policemen in particular), the family were finally allowed to cross through on foot to go home, while the work continued. What was anybody thinking about?

LATEST UPDATE: It’s just after 12:30 am, and the big machines, security escort, Palestinian work crew (including one from Nablus!), and Border Police jeep have just all driven off, up the hill, along The Wall, to Neve Yacov, where (the neighbors say) The Wall was “torn down” — but just to bring in all this heavy equipment and the huge pre-molded concrete cylinders that form the high concrete watch tower, and the two pre-molded slabs that seal off all space on either side.

There is just one ray of light coming through from the street lamps on what has definitively become the West Bank side of Dahiet al-Bariid. The remaining gap is big enough maybe for a cat, or a rat — but not for a human being.

(The street lamps on the part of Dahiet al-Bariid where I live, which has now become de facto part of Jerusalem, were knocked out by the big machines which came to lift the huge concrete pieces into place — so the ray of light coming from the West Bank is almost the only light, now that everyone has gone.)

The Palestinian workmen quietly told the neighbors that the gate down below, on what used to be the main street between Jerusalem and Ramallah, will now be open only from 6-8 am, and from 12-2 pm, for the passage of school children who study on one side, but live on the other side, of The Wall — and for certain as-yet-unspecified “special cases”.

The checkpoint, according to these sources, will be moved — supposedly on this coming Sunday — to the gate.

The terrible and powerful choreography of all this was simply overwhelming.

This Wall was erected against all the people on the other side, and everything has now changed, in ways that we do not yet fully comprehend.

And, have I mentioned that Qalandia “border crossing” is now closed to all private vehicles for the first Friday in Ramadan from 1:00 am until 9:00 pm, to keep Palestinians from thronging to get to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for prayers????

Putting down asphalt at the gap in The Wall at Dahiet al-Bariid – no information available to the residents of this area or to the tens of thousands who transit here daily

There is still NO INFORMATION at all about what is happening at the gap in The Wall (between what will be the West Bank and northern Jerusalem) at Dahiet al-Bariid. There are only rumors.

Maybe it will be closed before Ramadan (which will start on 1 September). Maybe it will be closed at some point during Ramadan. Maybe it will be closed by the end of 2008 (just about the time that the peace negotiations launched at Annapolis in November 2007 are supposed to be coming to a conclusion with the establishment of a Palestinian state…)

In any case, this morning, I went out to go to some meetings in Ramallah, and noticed that there were armed men standing on the corner. There was also a border police jeep, with more armed persons, but they drove off.

When I passed through, nobody said anything, or gave me any informational pamphlet, or anything like that. Nor were there any signs posted …

When I came back, I found the road blocked with two huge pieces of formed cement just in front of the driveway to my building. And more armed men blocking the gap in The Wall.

Putting down asphalt at the gap in The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid

“Drive around”, they said blithely — as if it didn’t matter at all.

Armed men in the street - at the gap in The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid

That would mean going either through Qalandia — a supposed “border crossing” which is always a nightmare of congestion and humiliation under the point of some very big and very advanced automatic weapons.

Or, it would mean going around 11 miles or so on a winding road with some very aggressive drivers as road companions, through the “Judean Desert”, and passing through two more checkpoints — the one being upgraded beside Jabaa village, and the one called “Hizma” …

Armed men in the neighborhood

Putting down asphalt under armed guard

Then they said, “wait five minutes”. And they used a “traktor” (bulldozer) to pick up the huge boulders, and eventually the mad crazy traffic through the area started up again.

Pulling back the boulders and putting them on the West Bank side of The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid

Putting down asphalt all along the Jerusalem side of The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid

But, if I had listened to them at first, and not protested, I would have had to drive nearly one hour out of the way, through horrible dusty roads with world-class potholes, and at the same time as some very crazy and crazed drivers, on a very, very hot day …

And nobody knows what will happen or what the situation will be tomorrow.

NOTE OF REMINDER: This, my neighborhood, on the Jerusalem side of The Wall, where I and my neighbors simply live, is part of the Twilight Zone here. Yes, here, the little area where we live between The (still-open) Wall and a miserable and frustrating checkpoint (which it took over 20 minutes to transit today in the burning sun and boiling heat), has been designated a “Military Zone” [not a closed Military Zone or an operational Military Zone, but just a Military Zone], where anyone entering (or damaging “the fence”) subjects him-or-her-self to MORTAL DANGER — and ENDANGERS HIS LIFE!

Military Zone - anyone entering or damaging the fence endangers his life