'Atara, Qalandiya, Sun 5.2.12, Afternoon
Translation: Ruth Fleishman
Relatives of prisoners were crammed at the parking lot after visiting the jail house. They were mainly women and children. They got on the Red Cross bus that would drive them home.
At the front of the bus sat the children who had their best outfits on, smiling to the camera. The women smiled gently and responsively. No anger, no hatred no grievance, no opposition. Just weariness and fatigue. Fatigue. Fatigue from being on the road from dark to dark, from dark to dark. Fatigue mixed with the excitement that precedes, the pain that takes over during and the everlasting longing.
We waited in the human pens for the metal bars to open and then to enter the checkpoint for a long while: the soldier who's only duty was to press the opening button, sat and stared at the people standing in the line in front of him. Some tried to get his attention by signaling him and yelling- it was all in vain. He kept on staring.
"He doesn't see us for what we are, human beings", said a young man.
A nine year old child passing the checkpoint alone presented before the soldier at the inside post documents that verified his existence: a birth certificate (Kushan) in nylon and a valid passage permit (Tasrih). After checking his details and the authenticity of his papers, he was forced to answer a series of personal questions that came shooting out of the soldier's mouth and could be heard throughout the checkpoint: "what's your father's name…- and what's your mothers…", and only after giving the precise answers when interrogated by the women who was seated and protected from ticking bombs such as this little adult child, was he permitted to head on to the other side of the checkpoint.
Atara/ Bir Zeit:
Curiosity got a reserve soldier to come down from the pillbox, after having communicated with us through barbed wire.
During the conversation with him we learned that: "this is not a checkpoint, it's an observation post" (a definition we had yet to hear). That they, the soldiers, don't hassle the Palestinians driving there too much, they descend from the tower "only when they must…" and that their quarters aren't located in the settlement Halamish (as past reserve soldiers had said) but in the settlement Atara: "They are much worse than the ones in Halamish".
Bellow, by the pillbox, laid in splendor a ragged flag that the wind had entrapped inside a coil of barbed wire.