Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Last Thursday I went to meet someone in Efrat, which a large settlement in the West Bank that lies just south of Jerusalem and adjacent to Bethlehem.

I caught the route 160 bus by the old train station in the German Colony (Hebron-bound - on the day that 2 Israelis were killed in Hebron). It's a half-hour-or-so ride through the Talpiot industrial zone and the Arab village of Beit Safafa and Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, through a tunnel that runs beneath the area that separates Gilo from Beit Jala, then down the wide-open sunny Route 60. Since the bus was going to Hebron, I got off at the entrance to Efrat and hitchhiked (very common there) to my destination.

It's been two years since the last time I was there. One difference that I noticed is that there is now a paved road to the cluster of portable homes (ie. illegal outpost) called Dagan. New apartments are being built in the Zayit neighborhood.

The bus and the hitchhiking was sufficiently inconvenient that I wondered if it would have been better to drive. On the way back though, my bus was stoned: it was just a loud thump on the reinforced (very sturdily I noticed) window. Everyone looked up. Someone remarked that the driver is supposed to report it, but he didn't seem to.

Whereas 6 or 9 months ago, this kind of thing was happening on a regular basis. Freezing settlement growth as a goodwill measure wouldn't have made a difference, and unilaterally evacuating would only cause the frontline to move elsewhere. The IDF made the difference.

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