Second Friday of Ramadan
Each year, on Ramadan Fridays, the occupation authorities announce ““as if”” rules:
“As if” the restrictions have been eased, “as if” their approach is more humane, “as if” they’re more flexible, “as if” there’s freedom of worship.
This year they removed their masks.
On the second Friday of Ramadan, the day after President Shimon Peres gave an enthusiastic speech, his empty words including the following - “We’re not a people which conquers” - the true face of the occupation was exposed at Qalandiya, its shame publicly exposed.
But the public space belonged to them, the armed bullies.
They invaded and groped and rummaged through belongings and handbags, photographed whoever approached and whoever stood on the side, fell upon people, insulted them, shoved a journalist who’d set up a camera tripod to document and report on the empty crossing.
Few came to the checkpoint entrance and few passed by the soldiers.
Ramadan Fridays under Israeli occupation are a seismograph of Palestinian morale.
Stubbornly standing before the armed soldiers, those who left home at dawn even though they knew they didn’t meet the criteria, the many who tried and were turned back and tried again and were turned back again and stood proudly, defiantly, were a symbol of steadfastness and protest on every Ramadan Friday in prior years.
This year the protestors and the defiant ones were absent.
Only one young woman faced the soldiers, stubborn and proud.
There was great sadness, echoing the silent cry of those who weren’t there.
Like a deep fissure, like a broken spirit.