Qalandiya, Fri 10.8.12, Morning
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
The ritual held at Qalandiya checkpoint on Ramadan Fridays is reminiscent of the one that was held during the Great War, wherein once the sun had set the battles would subside until being renew at sunrise.
At Qalandiya checkpoint, each Friday the camps stand one in front of the other on both side of the blockages, from sunrise till the hour of prayer, the Palestinians stand armed with their praying mats in front of soldier who are armed with rifles and grenades.
The rules and regulations are the same each time. Difference can be found only in the amount of people standing at the gates, the volume of the voices and the tone.
Less sentences of this sort: "Happy holiday… please… I'm sorry but…"
And more or especially of this sort: "Get out of my sight… Yallah… get lost… go home I said!"
Less: "It's fine that you are standing here… you are allowed… you can photograph it all…"
And more or especially: "Stand back… don't stand here… you are in violation of the agreement of the commanders with Watch…"
It was as though the masks had been removed and a sense of truthfulness surfaced at the areas of contact.
The general story is mirrored through the stories of individuals, those are the ones that must be documented:
The exact words of Arafat, he spoke them from the bottom of his heart:
"Today is a holiday, something spiritual. Why do they humiliate me like this?... I've been standing here for two hours, they have checked me ten times, again and again, each one of them says: 'show me your permit…. show me your permit… show me your permit… 'I'm a man of peace. I'm a peace activist. I can't take this humiliation anymore!
About the woman crossing with her two children and while she was inside the construction, sure that the road to El-Aqsa was open before her, she was detained by a soldier who noticed that the woman had "deceived the army", for her elder son was older then the permitted age (12). The mother was caught red handed and sent away in shame with her children through the revolving gendered door, the one intended for women only.
About a family that came from afar: a father, mother and their two young children, that left their home knowing everything was alright, that their acts were in accordance to the laws of the Ramadan. The father, who had yet to turn forty, had obtained a praying permit, the mother had packed all that was needed for a day out in Jerusalem, but because she was in a hurry she forgot to put her husband's ID in the bag. The young man tried appealing to the hearts of the soldiers and officers, he presented the paper that was issued by the authorities, he presented his wife and children… after having pleaded, begged and requested- the family was sent back.
The greatest victim of the day was a teenager that the soldiers dragged into the sterile zone, they place him against a concrete brick and put plastic handcuffs on his hands. Only the camera managed to stop the completion of the arrest. The camera was attached to the faces of teenager and his capturers and wasn't deterred even when the requests were replaced by orders and threats. Its stubbornness made the officers that were alerted to decide to finish the handling of the teenager inside the checkpoint.
The fragments of information that I was able to gather regarding this incident, indicate that the teenager picked up an IDF grenade that had probably fallen off one of the soldier's belt and then was witnessed raising the hand with the grenade. In a reality in which all the rights had been placed at the hands of one side alone- the ruler, while on the other side is the one ruled over, millions of people remain without rights. It's hard not to ponder about the fact that if the bearing of arms is a right, in the sense that it is legal in the model state, and a longed for ideal of most Israelis, then this right, like many others, must also be symmetrical.
At the appointed time of prayer at El Aqsa a young Imam step on an improvised stage, held a prayer before the crowd, after which the people stood in long and straight lines and replied with prayer, they raised their hands to the sky and knelt on the ground, some on praying mats and others on pieces of cartons or on random pages from a newspaper.
And in front of the soldiers with their pointing rifles, young Palestinians assembled a choir, they raised their arms and together yelled over and over again:
"In our millions we shall go to El Aqsa, even if we are killed we shall go…"