Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Fri 19.7.13, Morning
Second Friday of Ramadan
The canopy cast a soft light, the fan sprayed tiny drops of moisture, the pressure was not great, and even the weather this time was benign.
Those of us who remember Ramadan in previous years, find a softer spectacle this year, almost normal. Yet certain things continue to remind us that all is not normal:
The requirement of every male to prove he is who he is, every older child to prove his age and relationship to parents, the arbitrary searches through women's belongings...
A large team of border police, blue police, and representatives of the Civil Administration, man the checkpoint. In front of the first selection point the Red Crescent are stationed, and next to them the Palestinian police. United Nations representatives and the foreign press were also there to watch the spectacle.
Most of the crowd got to cross, but quite a number of the unfortunate (either because too old -- over 15 or 16 -- or unaccompanied by a parent, or too young -- under 40), found themselves milling at the side of the road. Some of them had weekday passes, but for some obscure reason they needed special permits to prove their innocence during Ramadan. How can a person become peace-loving when Israel needs to exploit a man's cheap labour, but finds him increasingly dangerous when he comes to claim his right to worship on the day of his holiday? Security considerations?
Once in a while a group of soldiers came out to push back the frustrated youths. While the Palestinian policemen were around, the youths moved back obediently. When they left, confrontations began. The security guards were lead by a determined border policewoman, gun at the ready, followed by her colleagues, including some of higher rank. The same woman was conspicuously harsh and rude while performing her duties at the checkpoint.