Qalandiya, Sun 19.6.11, Afternoon
Tranlslation: Ruth Fleishman
"In Israel, have you ever seen anything like this over there?"
The road leading from Ramalla was jammed- the line of vehicles went on as far as the eye could see.
"They are fixing something over there…"explained a man we know as he pointed at the western and new wing that had been closed.
The vehicles had been directed to the old roads, which even on ordinary days, days with no setbacks, are too narrow to possibly provide passage for the thousands of people who wish to cross the checkpoint.
"'In Israel, have you ever seen anything like this over there?" asked the man we were speaking to (no. we haven't). He told us that on Saturday, armed security men got out of the area of the checkpoint and arrested A', a peddler who's cart is nearest to the pillbox. "They said that he opened fire at the checkpoint on Thursday, at two AM". A' was questioned and released after three hours. "When he returned his face was swollen", the man finished recounting the events of the previous day.
"The children of the checkpoint" were the only ones not to complain about the traffic. They, who spend their entire day, from dawn to dusk, running between the vehicles ambushing the drivers as the younger ones hang on the windows of the cars so as to stand as tall as the drivers' faces while trying to sell their poor merchandise: chewing gum/ bottles of water/ passages from the Qur'an… sat with their back to the wall and feasted on Pita and a slice of watermelon.
The adulthood of these children doesn't seem to hold a future which will be any better than the violent reality of their childhood. During the past months we had created a bond with these children who had been doomed to a life of wretchedness misery, a relationship much different from that which is based on the mantra: "here is a Shekel- go away", which is how most of the adults that arrive at the place greet the children.
As though an unwritten contract had been drawn up, each one of the children we had met in the previous week was handed a photo of himself, and in return we got to see their faces light up at least for one instant, with a satisfied smile and a feeling of content which is so rare in their world.
A police officer who held the military rank of second lieutenant manned the vehicle checkpoint. He was the checkpoint commander, however he accepted the authority of the security guards, who with an obscene language and improper behavior, demanded that we leave, in spite of the fact that we were standing at our usual spot. Since we wouldn't obey and seeing as they had no means with which to punish us, they behaved like lowlifes and punished the weak ones who had involuntarily turned up at the checkpoint: an ambulance from Qalqiliyah that was transferring a baby who suffered from lung disease had arrived, once the documents had been inspected and everything was found to be in order, the mother of the child entered the ambulance from Jerusalem and held her baby, and then the thundering the voice of the security guard was heard: "I won't let them drive on until you leave!". He ordered the soldiers to block the ambulance, and they stood with their rifles in front of it. The ambulance driver begged, but that didn't help, neither did his attempt to explain that the army was the one detaining the baby's arrival at the hospital, and not us. Only once the security guard/ commander called the police, who didn't have any problem with our work, the road was cleared.