Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 25.12.11, Afternoon
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
Because of the rain the coffee stand observing the vehicle checkpoint was closed.
Because of the rain the "ice-cream shop" next door didn't open.
"Because of the rain" said the cab drivers, "there aren't many people today at the checkpoint". Others corrected them: "it's because of the Christian holiday".
But Fadi was deterred neither by the Christian holiday nor by the rain and the lack of clientele. He hid his head inside the coat and pushed a cart full of bananas toward the checkpoint entrance. Perhaps there he might find some customers, perhaps he will manage to earn a few Shekels for his family in Jenin.
Taking the day off or just standing idly isn't an option of someone who has to provide for his wife and children.
Just as military decorations from ancient wars hang for display on veterans' chests, so do the Palestinians boast in the time they spent in the Israeli prison, which to them is like honorary badges.
He who overcomes this test of masculinity is to ascend and is granted social respect as well as self-pride.
It has been a while since I've last seen A, who greeted me with a big smile, his eyes and his face were smiling as he told me: "I got back three days ago. I was in for less than a year". A looked like a child displaying his matriculation certificate as he took out a bundle of official papers. In them I read that A was accused and convicted of: "arms trade".
Three day earlier A returned home to his young wife and daughter, who when he had last seen her was six months old: "she is now one and a half", he said. It has been a year since A had last seen his daughter and it has been a year since the baby had last seen her father.
In the background the inspections in the checkpoint were performed, as usual, slowly. With each group of people entering the inspection zone, the shout of a soldier trying to amuse himself and his friends was heard all around the checkpoint: "Merry Christmas!!!" And on the lane heading into Palestine a woman was walking arm in arm with a blind girl, helping her learn how to cope by herself with the turnstile bars- each time they arrived near it, she let go of her arm and placed her hand on the girls back, quietly and patiently examining her ability to operate the metal blockage.
The taxi drivers talk with anger and insult of what takes place each morning at Jaba checkpoint. They say that as early as five or five thirty policemen block the road to all those heading from Ramallah towards road 60, they say that there is no one among them that had not received at least one ticket, some of them for traffic offences they committed while others on false accusations, since the beginning of the "operation for the diminishing of traffic jams at the entrance to Jerusalem" which is directed towards Palestinians alone in effort to ease the traffic for the settlers.
Early in the morning, the drivers said, a television crew from Ramallah arrived and documented what was going on.
The morning blockage is becoming permanent. The red plastic blockages called New Jersey, were placed by the side of the road leading from Qalandiya, on the opposite side of the checkpoint.
A short conversation, too short in my opinions, between myself and the checkpoint commander:
The commander: "you're not allowed to stand here, it an A territory".
Me: "No it's not an A territory".
The commander: "All right, then right here is the entrance to A territory".
Me: "I've got a map in my car, let's take a look and see where A territory begins".
The commander: "I haven't got time to talk to you. I have to get back to my post".