Qalandiya, Sun 15.1.12, Afternoon
Translation: Ruth Fleishman
We were last in line, waiting for the turnstiles to open so that we could pass into the inner inspection area. Neither we nor the people before us had noticed that the soldiers' post had been abandoned and the revolving mechanism was disconnected. Only one child who had passed through the gate before his mother had, stood on the other side, all alone, there was no going forward or backward. The child was entrapped.
During the first moments the child smiled with embarrassment, and then the smile was replaced by a worried gaze. He brought his body closer to his mother who was standing on the other side of the metal bars, took her hand and grabbed it tightly like a life preserving anchor.
The Palestinians, who are used to the arbitrariness by which the place is run, moved to the parallel inspection lane with acceptance. We stayed with the mother, cetin that within a minute or two the problem would be resolved. After all everything that happens in the checkpoint is filmed and broadcasted live to the plasma screens of those who run the site.
We were wrong.
The tears that started streaming down the cheeks of the child caused us to hurry and make some calls. We thought that as soon as we inform the hot lines the child would be released.
We were wrong again.
They all gave us the same answer: "I'm making inquiries".
We called again: "I'm making inquiries".
After twenty minutes, after having promised the mother and her son that "any moment now…"- "they will just look at their camera and someone will come and press the button…", "But I've only now explained to them, they are making inquiries and it will all be alright…", we understood that there was no telling how long the child will remain entrapped and detached from his mother, and Roni went to the parallel lane to request the help of the soldier sitting there, while I stayed with the mother and kept trying to talk to the people at the hot lines who over and over again could understand and connected me with the officer in charge, who also didn't understand and we ended up having an incomprehensive dialog.
- The officer: "what is the name of his mother?"
- Me: "I don't know"
- The officer: "how will I identify him?"
- Me: "He has two legs… why do you need to identify him?- just let go!!"
- The officer: "wait, I don't understand, explain again, is he in the red zone?- where does he want to go to?"
Nearly thirty minutes later a solider from the offices was sent to press the releasing button. But before pressing he insisted on explaining that actually: "the child is to blame. He shouldn't have passed to the other side on his own". Not only was it the victims fault, but it was possible to prolong his suffering and put forth the occupier's narrative.
No one believes the Palestinians. That's why they are always equipped with a bundle of documents that prove their disabilities, their situation and their very existence.
Such was the 71 year old person from Jerusalem, a disabled and sick man who has difficulty walking and waiting in the cramped lines of Qalandiya only makes it harder for him.
The man presented before us his disability certificate, as proof of his bad health and told us how he is mistreated at the passage for residents of Jerusalem, where in spite regulations that allow the disabled elderly and pregnant women to remain seated in the bus, he is force to come down, walk to the pedestrians' checkpoint, stand in line, pass the turnstiles and be inspected (again) by the soldier.
"Write down what I'm telling you. Write it down"- he asked.