Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 3.4.11, Afternoon
We met old friends and made some new ones.
We spoke to R., a 25 year old man who had spent the last five years in different prisons: "they said, but I didn't say it, that I threw stones at the vehicles on this road". When they came to arrest him he ran away. His capturers shot him in the back. Two bullets from the round shot entered his body. An incriminating witness was brought to court, and in spite of the fact that R denied the charges, the court believed the prosecution. Now, after R had been released, he is trying to rehabilitate the wreckage of his adolescence with the constant fear that another round is waiting at the corner: another set up > incrimination > arrest.
We were told of the 14 year old boy Salah Lutfi Hamed who was taken away by people in civilian clothing ("detectives" they said), in the early evening hours of this Friday. Salah was with some other boys of his age, when one of them threw a Molotov cocktail at the checkpoint: "They see everything with their cameras", we were told. The boy who threw the bottle hurried and run away. The people from the checkpoint- who either didn't want to come back empty handed or were forbidden to do so- took Salah with them to god knows where.
In the human pens at the entrance to the checkpoint a young man was cursing the soldier at the front post. The soldier, being locked in a cell that defends him from bullets and people, couldn't hear what was being said, but it was obvious that he was able to make out the spirit in which they were said, from the person's body language. His face didn't portray anger but awareness to the power he had, as though saying: "now we'll see who's the tough one…" and with a hint of a teasing smile on his face he pressed the button and locked the passage to everyone. The people around us looked with apathy and acceptance at the finger that controls their time, they weren't angry at the soldier or at the young man who spoke up, and waited, the victims of this collective punishment didn't know how much time would have to pass until the punisher would be satisfied.
We spent some twenty minutes observing the activation of the checkpoint which it's only purpose is to protect the settlers and prevent them from driving towards Qalandiya and Ramallah, for fear that Palestinians might attack them. We saw that the soldiers completed their orders with devotion: they stopped drivers with yellow/Israeli plats alone, and just as is done at the entrance to the airport, the driver was asked a question so as to hear his accent- Jewish or Arab.
After tens of "Kosher" vehicles, a driver that wasn't used to obeying the soldiers orders and that didn't understand the conduct of the checkpoint, was spotted. She didn't stop when the soldier at the front post told her to open the window and give a simple answer to his question, but committed what is called in the military lingo a checkpoint break. The soldiers at the back post took over quickly, diagnosing the look and accent of the driver and the passenger that was with her, and the two settlers were courteously given permission to make a u-turn and head back.
A police car was present that whole time. Two officers "cashed in" a nice sum and with the help of the army the handed out tickets to Palestinian traffic offenders driving inside Palestine.