Sometimes the wall is made of concrete slabs, at times it is a double fence with a tracking earthen road and jeeps observing from afar, and at times it is a bureaucratic paper wall consisting of a permit to enter Jerusalem and Israel, a permit for work, and a travel or transit permit.
For example, anyone who had been wounded by the Israeli defense forces can no longer enter Jerusalem and Israel. He or she become blacklisted or in Israeli military jargon, prevented. Palestinians involved in court procedures in Israel are almost always denied permits and thus are prevented from attending their trials.
MachsomWatch volunteers review these preventions and try to assist Palestinians to obtain permits at least for a single day, a single court session, or a single medical treatment.
Nidal Eshtayeh is a journalist and photographer who had been hurt twice in the past during protest demonstrations. He sued the State of Israel for the confiscation of his cameras and was even awarded reparations.
In 2015 Nidal documented a demonstration that took place near Huwwara Checkpoint to mark Nakba Day. The demonstrators held flags and paper keys, and one woman - signaling that the demonstration was non-violent and not armed - was shot in the stomach with a rubber-coated steel pellet.
Nidal wore a vest identifying him as a member of the PRESS, stood on the side with other media personnel, holding large cameras and wearing a gas mask on his face. The army fired rubber-coated pellets targeting his face (possibly his viewfinder), and Nidal lost his left eye.
Nidal is suing the State of Israel
In order to be present at the trial he needs to get a special entry permit to Jerusalem from the Civil Administration. Nidal’s first court session was scheduled for a Sunday but only at the last minute, after much effort by MachsomWatch, the permit was issued on a Friday afternoon at the DCO located at the perimeter of an army base. Nidal waited at the gate, because a Palestinian is not allowed into the nearly empty Israeli army base on Friday afternoon. Only after lengthy phone calls did a female officer arrive at the gate of the base and provided him with the permit.
Now, how would Nidal reach the courthouse?
Nidal was required to be accompanied from the checkpoint to the courthouse and back again. He was also required to pay for this at his own expense. The authorities provided a list of approved firms providing this kind of service. It turns out that most of the companies (on the approved list) were actually suppliers of parquet floors and lamps who had never heard of this arrangement. When a company providing the service was finally found, the person it sent to accompany Nidal travelled to the Tarqumia Checkpoint, 75 kilometers south of Jerusalem, instead of the Qalandiya Checkpoint just north of Jerusalem. “It’s all the same, isn’t it?” he claimed.
Nidal did not manage to reach the first court session for his case.
For the second session, in February 2019, his entry permit arrived a day after the scheduled court session.
And what next? It seems that bureaucracy is the most invisible, insidious and steadfast of barriers.