Youngsters and students
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
The Image of the reality at Qalandiya:
Burning tires were rolled towards the checkpoint, stones were thrown, soldiers responded by opening fire.
The gas fumes mixed in the black smoke the rose from the tires, and the combination of the two created a thick cloud that hovered over the grounds.
The protesting teenagers had the advantage for hight- most of them stood at the top of the hill that rises by the separation wall and a few of them came out from the allies of the refugee camp.
The soldiers' bodies were burdened with heavy weaponry and protective equipment. This made them run awkwardly and caused them to fall when trying to catch one of the stone throwers.
Frustrated the armed soldiers crossed the main road, using their vehicles as firing positions. From time to time they hunted down one the teenagers that stood across from them, they invaded with their hands and eyes into their privet sphere and checked them out with the GSS. Why?- Why not?
And during the whole time a police photographer was there.
Such bad fate will fall on the doors of the homes of the teenagers that had been immortalized with his camera, such bad fate will fall on their mothers and such bad fate will fall on them during their years of adulthood.
"They are heroes" a young man standing near me said as he pointed at the fighters on the hill, but he wouldn't join the ones he admired.
And in the meanwhile at the checkpoint arrived an ambulance with a baby in it that was to be hospitalized at Mukased hospital.
And during the entire afternoon Muhamed, a smart and serious boy was there, he observed it all and photographed it all mindfully.
Standing by and with Muhamed was a real pleasure to me.
At 3 PM we met only one Palestinian, a driver who told us that some time ago today he had been invited to Shabak, but of no avail. 17 years ago he had spend 6 months in prison. He supposed that this might be the reason that he never got a permit for Jerusalem.
We gave him the telephone number of S.
Beit Ummar, Nabi Yunis
We drove on road 60 southward and found these two places quietly. So we returned to Jerusalem via a detour through the renewed checkpoint Beitar Illit. 2 cars got checked
by some soldiers.
14:20 – Etzion DCL
Despite the stormy weather, seven cars waited at the parking lot. Inside the hall there were a few youngsters who were asked in by the Sha"bak. A soldier announced that today's distribution of magnetic cards will end at 14:00. The sign on site reads that the DCL is open until 16:00, and the answer to the question why they stop at 14:00 was: "The soldiers have to rest".
We've asked the humanitarian center to place a complaint for discontinuing distribution of cards at 14:00.
We were approached by that young fellow who said that he was taken out of his house at 2:00 AM and was held in detention for 3 days. He complained of hunger. After him more people came out of the building after receiving passage permits to Jerusalem for Christmas. Apparently the soldier who took care of them did not need a rest.
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
It was only after a hold up on and hour and twenty minutes that a child suffering from excruciating pain was able to pass through the checkpoint, on her way to a hospital in East Jerusalem.
"Her stomach has to be operated on", the ambulance driver said.
Hopeless, the little child lied attached to tubes and machines, some were out in the open and others hidden beneath a blanket, only a bump at the center of her body indicated their existence.
When the soldiers demanded that her mother leave the child so as to open the bags and display their content before all, to prove there is no bomb in them, the little one sobbed faintly and cried: "mama...mama..."
We stood for a long time at the inner parking lot of the checkpoint, waiting for the ambulances to connect. During that time we saw how a resident of East Jerusalem was denied permission to drive through with his vehicle (which had Israeli yellow plats) with two citrus trees in it, and was forced to head back. We saw a Jewish orthodox that had already arrived at the Palestinian side of the checkpoint when the soldiers hurried to stop him, they explained his error to him and guided him back.
We saw three women pushing a wheel chair of a paralyzed child, together they had to lift the chair to the sidewalk and pass through to the other side of the checkpoint while preforming acrobatic moves between the fences and the barriers, because the gate that are supposed to serve the handicapped wouldn't open.
We saw BP officers leading to the Palestinian side of the checkpoint five Palestinian laborers who were caught at Jerusalem without a work permit, and only once they were sure that the "outlaws" had crossed the imaginary line of separating the prohibited from the permissible they handed their IDs back.
We saw a long line of mothers, women, sisters and young children returning from visitations at Ofer prison. We didn't see any fathers, husbands or older children.
-Are their grief and longing not as strong as that of the women?
And we saw that the missing parts in the wall parallel to the separation wall had been replaced, so that the path leading between the two would allow army forces to exit unnoticed from the checkpoint complex to the pillbox, from where they shoot at young Palestinians during protests, the like of which we had seen from up close and of which we are expected to see more.
Translator: Charles K.
06:15 A’anin checkpoint
A glorious sunrise greets us over the village of A’anin, as usual. Many youths cross through the checkpoint (from A’anin, on the West Bank, to the seam zone). During this harvest season they’ve received for the first time day permits for the seam zone (agricultural permits). Everyone stops to talk to us, curious about where we’re from. They’re all familiar with Haifa, less so with Binyamina. It’s a generation that has never worked in Israel nor travelled around there. Some spoke English; we invited them to view our web site. Not all of them are going to pick olives in their families’ groves; some are construction workers and others are harvesting for pay in other groves. Their rides wait at the entrance to the road leading to the checkpoint. A young man about 20 who’s already come through the checkpoint wants to return to the village; we waited to insure they don’t make any problems for him (there were periods when the soldiers insisted that in the morning people could “only leave,” and return only in the afternoon). They didn’t make any problems.
07:00 Shaked checkpoint
The checkpoint, like the entire area, is covered in dense fog. Particularly heavy traffic from the seam zone to the West Bank, to Tura nearby or to Yabed and Jenin. No one is going in the other direction; everyone must have taken advantage of the earlier opening time for the olive harvest and already crossed. Pupils go through the middle of the checkpoint, not through the fenced corridor ("sleeve") or on the sidewalk, and this morning the soldiers didn’t even look at them or inspect their backpacks.
An achievement for Machsom Watch: The usually irate teacher from Dahar al Malk, who travels to Jenin each morning to work, and who, in our infrequent discussions, expresses disgust of anything Israeli, waves languidly to Neta with her muscular hand, at her own initiative, from her car, a slight, friendly gesture for the first time in our history.
07:30 Reihan checkpoint
People from the West Bank arrive quickly on foot or by vehicle, enter the fenced corridor to the terminal rapidly in groups of five and then come out to the seam zone. Few cross in the opposite direction. The number of cars indicates that many have already crossed by now, mostly to East Barta’a, the flourishing market town and its workshops. Hadi, who runs the stand at the checkpoint, sweeps the asphalt between customers (for pay), and says “God is good.” He pasted large Hebrew (!) letters on his car: There’s no one like my mother. (I’ll have to show it to my sons).
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
It was announced on the noon news flashes that security forces had caught a terrorist at Qalandiya checkpoint. It was said that the man had tried to pass eight pipe bombs in his bag. It was reported that the terrorist had been taken for questioning, that the bombs were dismantled and that the checkpoint was closed.
The report was suspicious, why would a person who didn't suffer from mental illness or that hadn't been sent by the system to check the alertness of the soldiers, try to pass not one bomb, not two bombs, but eight (!) bombs, when every reasonable person knows that even coins in a man's pocket, earrings on a woman, nails in a laborer's shoes or belt buckles are detected by the sensitive machine and cause it to beep.
I don't know whether it happened or not, I only know that closing the checkpoint and preventing people from passing for three hours is collective punishment which is prohibited by the international law. I also know that under the occupation the time of millions of Palestinians is expropriated from them and the obligation to give an explanation and to apologize falls on no one and on no authority, and neither is anyone held accountable for it.
And regardless of this, or rather in clear relation to it all, on the other side of the checkpoint, the Palestinian side, the war of teenagers against soldiers was in its midst, a war of stones against rifles. Over there the battle persists to exist without being reported on or publicized.
Over there the teenagers continue to attack the checkpoint and the soldiers that come out towards them with grenades and rifles, they aren't deterred and don't stop in face of the shooting and the gas.
It is evident that the Palestinian teenagers determine the intensity of the flames and the location of the battlefield, while the soldiers, who in spite of their being keen to fight, are restricted by orders. Unlike in the past, the soldiers were the ones to respond and not those to initiate.
Atfirst the teenagers arrived from the hill towards which the wall ascends, they created a shaky barricade from a wooden board, behind which they found shelter and over which they threw stones and different kinds of bottles at the soldier. The soldiers got out of the checkpoint complex, crept along the wall and under the cover of gunshots and gas fumes they advanced, they moved the barrier and aimed at the teenagers. The battle continued until the soldiers' commander arrived, an officer at the rank of second lieutenant who received notice through the radio and withdrew his men. The teenagers, drunk on their momentary victory, tailed those retreating and attacked. The soldiers, as though their pride suffered a blow, headed forward again and fired with more rage and force. And the teenagers opened additional fronts at which the soldiers' fire was aimed as well. The soldiers didn't take under consideration all those many people who were forced to cross the main road while tearing, chocking and having trouble breathing. And when a young woman who was caught at the front line with her baby as she was shading his face with a blanket, complained to the officer about the damage that the fire was causing her infant, he waved his hand at her and shouted with frustration: "you don't want us to shoot?- tell them (the teenagers) not to throw stones…".
And so in continual and interval pulses, the young Palestinians attacked and stopped, and then they attacked again and stopped for a few minutes, after which they attacked again.
When the day ended and darkness fell, the teenagers had yet to tire and things still had not settled. The army forces were replaced, new soldiers took to the posts, only the teenagers were the same ones, they attacked with determination, passion and rage, and the battle went on into the night.
It seemed that politicians of both sides are making an effort to keep the quiet, to reduce the amount of arrests and the amount of prisoners, at least until the elections in the USA, at least until the UN assembly discussed the Palestinians' requested to upgrade Palestine's status into a non-member state with recognized borders.
In spite it all, for the meanwhile, at least at Qalandiya, those fighting in the streets are the ones who have the final word.
And I personally had a moment of satisfaction during one of the breaks, when two students from the university of Bir Zeit conversed with me, and Taher, the one amongst the two who spoke English, asked who I was and what and why was I there, and I told them, and they asked that I take their photo with the soldiers behind them and upload the picture to my Facebook account, so I did. And then, Taher handed me a medallion on a string of the map of Palestine that his friend took of his chest and said: "it is a gift, Abdullah wants you to have it!"
Touched and flattered I accepted the gift.
Translator: Charles K.
14:20 Many cars crowding the parking lot, including taxis and minibuses. Many people stood next to the revolving gate in the waiting room. They complained the gate hadn’t opened for a long time and no one had entered. They say thirty people are waiting inside. Only two soldiers are working, and from time to time they stop and take care of personal matters. We telephoned the humanitarian office.
A young man approached us; he has cancer and is receiving chemotherapy in Jerusalem. He has an entry permit to Israel valid for three months that expired yesterday; he’d come to renew it. They took his documents and told him that “the Shabak has to re-examine the case and he should wait until they’re finished.” They didn’t give him a temporary permit for the coming days, so he won’t be able to receive chemotherapy. Friends who wished to accompany him to the hospital said they’d received entry permits to Israel. Only the patient didn’t receive one. He and his friends gave up and left. After they’d moved away Shlomit was able to talk to S., the officer, who promised to help. We were soon informed that the permit had been approved. We were able to inform him. He returned to the DCO and received it.
A man from Hebron told us his mother is receiving chemotherapy in Jerusalem. He asked to visit her but didn’t get a crossing permit because he’s been blacklisted by the Shabak. We suggested submitting a request at the DCO for the Shabak to examine.
An elderly man complained that his compact tractor had been confiscated when he was working on private land in the Hebron area. It was confiscated with the excuse that he was in Area C, where it’s forbidden to operate equipment without a permit. He was asked to pay NIS 5,230!
A church worker told us that his Jerusalem work permit had been taken away. He was told the Shabak wanted to see him, but he hasn’t yet been called. He’s been trying unsuccessfully for two days to see them. We referred him to Sylvia.
16:10 A few people came out whose requests for entry permits to Jerusalem for the upcoming holiday had been denied. A chemotherapy patient received a permit. There are still 18 cars in the parking lot.
16:25 Two people who received magnetic cards told us they’d been there since morning. One arrived at 08:00 and the other at 10:00.
16:40 Two cheerful young women arrived. They entered immediately and came right out with permits.
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
It was on Friday afternoon that they caught Munir Nayim Hamed who is fifteen and a half years old.
"Munir is the leader" people said.
Every evening, Munir would lead his friends from the refugee camp holding stones in their hands, to battle the checkpoint and the soldiers that came out towards them. He stood at the front line of these teenagers when gas grenades were shot at them in retaliation.
"Six soldiers came, three stood back and three sneaked up and pulled a red riding hood on him" (set a trap for him) said an eye witness who after spending seven years in an Israeli prison not only masters Hebrew but is also familiar with the slang.
No reports have been made in the Israeli media and the Palestinian one, regarding the events of the past weeks. When running a search on "Ma'an" and "Wafa", nothing can be found. The media has also refrained from reporting about the protests held at Betunia checkpoint in front of Ofer prison, where most of the Palestinian political prisoners serve their time, those who are classified as "security prisoners" or terrorists", labels that do them injustice.
The authorities of the occupation adhere to the same policy used in the pass by Margaret Thatcher's government when it confronted the IRA, which utilizes the language so as to dehumanize freedom fighters.
Now the teenager Munir has become a political prisoner and like a chronicle foretold, when he and his friends protested against the checkpoint without veiling their faces, and being a person who is familiar with the area and the locations of the cameras, he couldn't have been surprised when he was hunted down.
Munir's arrest didn't deter his friends from attacking the checkpoint on the next day: "there was a lot of gas on Saturday" they said. And continued to talk about two clashes: the first happened on the usual hour, just before sunset, and the second late at night during which not only were stone thrown at the checkpoint, but also Molotov bottles. And they talked about the soldiers that ran after a teenager who took shelter inside one of the stores. The soldiers busted the door open and dragged him away. And Fares said that he was also caught and taken inside the checkpoint, they handcuffed him, blindfolded him and beat him. It was only after midnight that those who were hunted that night were released.
And bullet cases were scattered everywhere on the ground, indicating a transition from stun grenades to gas grenades.
And inside the checkpoint a BP armored car was parked, and during all those hours policemen waited armed and ready.
And at the edge of the square next to which the teenagers assemble in the evenings, a new group gathered, they were children from the town Ar-Ram, the oldest among them was only fourteen and he said he came with his friends to throw stones at the soldiers, that his parents didn't know where he was or what his intensions were, he remembered Talar Ramia who was shot and murdered by soldiers last February (http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=19165), he said he dreamt of being a Shahid like Talat and that, no, he wasn't frightened of what might happen to him.
And on the usual hour on which the usual teenager began to assemble at the usual place, and when the stones had already filled their fisted hands and rocks had already been dragged to the margins of the road to block one of the routs, some adults arrived. With a dignified affability they reproached the teenagers on their unworthy acts for having harmed their own people, and said that if they wished to protest they should head out on a peace march and not on a march for war.
There is no telling whether these words and this reproach convinced the teenagers or whether it was the authority of the adults that did it, but in any case the teenagers headed back in a united group and disappeared into the camp's allies.
The impression was that this wasn't a spontaneous gathering, organized in intention to stop the protest, but a delegation that was sent on behalf of someone.
-I know for certain that one of the people on that delegation is an employee of the Palestinian Authority. And it's difficult not to think of the common political interest of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, whose aim it is to stop this uncontrollable initiative and put out the flames.
This thought grows stronger in light of the fact that these events have now echo in the press, and the fact that apart for Munir's arrest, which was probably intended to castrate the protest, there were no arrest waves the likes of which we had witnessed in similar past events.
But this interpretation is mine alone and it is as good as any other. Only time will tell whether this will be the end of this protest wave or perhaps the subterranean currents that have been rustling for a while, will start to fizz and surface in spite of the authorities.
And at the checkpoint a closure was implemented. Or as someone I am familiar with summed up the equations: "if you have a holiday, then we have a closure".
While a closure is implemented only people with blue IDs are permitted to pass, that is, only residents of East Jerusalem. In addition there are the "humanitarian cases", a phrase I never could quite understand. As if someone who does not fall under the definition of a humanitarian case, would volunteer out of his own free will to stand inside that evil place and be the victim of degradations and insults of a solider standing behind a bullet proof glass.
Translation: Ruth Fleishman
A long and sad line of woman, children and babies was passing through the checkpoint at the end of a day of prison visits.
From one stretcher to another stretcher, from one ambulance to another ambulance, in the back-to-back procedure, a young man was being transferred after surgery to his home in Ramallah.
Twenty five men, who were caught by the border police hunters at Zur Hadasa in the early morning hours, had been detained during the entire day. They had been taken five at a time to Qalandiya checkpoint ("they don't have a vehicle large enough to contain them all, they said…) and from there they were sent off to Palestinian territories. Among them were people whose homes are in Hebron and Bethlehem.
Stones were thrown at the pillbox, grenades shot at the stone throwers and a lot of stifling tear gas was in the air. That's the way it has been going on every day in the afternoon for nearly ten days, so said acquaintances. "It's because the people don't have money", one person said.
Some of the stand owners hurried to put away their products and disappear, those who couldn't afford to lose a few Shekels even in the midst of danger to their bodies and health kept running between the stones and grenades and seducing the people rushing to and from the checkpoint with sunglasses, Koran versus, chewing gum, cellphone appliances and other items that nobody really needs but buys them mostly as a gesture of kindness.
And Abed, the owner of soft drinks stand which is made out of Pringles boxes that resemble colorful ice cream scoops, pointed towards the holes in the roof of his store that were punctured by gas grenades.
When the soldiers got out of the checkpoint and headed armed with rifles towards the teenagers (pictures of whom I can't send for fear they might be recognized), I noticed two soldiers that discreetly climbed up the tower closest to the refugee camp. I drew the attention of two teenagers, who were among the leaders of those armed with stones. By doing so I knowingly and in clear mind refuted the answer that was a response to the settlers' claims published in Maariv. Because I, like Vivi, Hagit S' and additional members have no doubt a side and together with whom we stand at the occupied Palestinian territories.
14:15: we again met the young men who last week had requested permits to visit and take care of their relatives in Hadassah hospital who had been injured in the attack on their car near Bat Ayin, and who with our help had received a permit for a week. They told us they’d taken care of the injured people all week; the permit’s validity had expired and they sought to renew it, but the Etzion DCL refused to extend it.
We telephoned to find out the reason for the refusal and were told that permits are issued only to first-degree relatives such as siblings; these are cousins. Since two of them were siblings and two were cousins, the siblings re-entered, but the cousins were again refused. We began making phone calls. One of the calls that Shlomit made was to the burns unit at Hadassah where the injured are hospitalized. She spoke to the unit’s social worker and to others, and we of course spoke to Chana who began to act.
With Shlomit's and Chana's help all of them – the siblings as well as the cousins – received permits valid for two weeks.