Saturday, January 9 2010 Repair workday in Bir- al-‘Id

Last Saturday some ten activists, Israelis and Internationals, went to Bir al-id in order to help the residents with local repair work. On this Saturday work was concentrated on two cisterns which had to be emptied of the dirt which had collected in them over the years, when the residents had not been allowed to live in this place. The work proceeded with no problems except for sweat, sore muscles and the growing exhaustion from filling baskets with obstinate muddy earth.

However, the very fact that on this day the work was finished without interference arouses surprise concerning the behaviour of the army during the previous weeks. Two weeks earlier, on the 26th of December, also a Saturday, a group of activists tried to reach Bir Elid for the same purpose: repairs. The army, apparently, was afraid of the possibility of Israelis and Palestinians working together and tried to prevent the activists from reaching the site. A barrier was erected at the entrance to the road leading to Bir Elid, the area was declared a closed military zone and forces of the army and the police were called to the site to prevent access to the activists. In spite of this a large proportion of the activists succeeded in reaching Bir Elid and worked there for several hours. Those activists who had not managed to reach Bir Elid went to Susia and worked there, also on repairing the cisterns.

Did knowledge of danger to security in this place reach army intelligence two weeks ago? Was the angle of the sun likely to cause serious public disturbance? Maybe visibility was such that the sight of activists working peacefully with the local inhabitants might hurt the feelings of the settlers living in the illegal outposts in the area? What changed over the last fortnight that now there is no prevention of activists working in the area? Only G-d understands the logic of the army.