When an ambulance is delayed at the checkpoint that means additional suffering for the person within. When four ambulances are delayed at the checkpoint, like happened this afternoon – two from each direction – that means additional suffering for at least two people.
Three youths ran along the bus lane toward the checkpoint, their fists clenched. When they arrived they threw the stones they were holding at no one in particular, turned and vanished in the alleys of the refugee camp.
In response, because not to respond would be inconceivable, tear gas was fired.
The tear gas spread to the bus stop and chased away those who waited there.
Old-timers reacted scornfully. They, who’d already seen it all, said, “That was just a little bit…a little tear gas…that’s the crazy guard, he’s the one…”
“Freedom has no price” – tattooed on the arm.
He told me a great deal about himself, where he’d been born, where he lives today, about his three years in an Israeli prison. Why was he there? Permits. He said that in jail he not only learned to speak Hebrew but also to read and write. Do you read Hebrew? – What do you think? – So, read what’s written on my arm, he said and rolled up his sleeve and added that what’s written is correct, that a fellow-prisoner wrote it with a nail. Yes, it hurt, but the pain went away and the truth remained. He said that because he has a suspended sentence he’s afraid to enter Israel to work so he works here, at Qalandiya and wherever he can. He works in construction, receives one hundred shekels a day, and you can’t live on that. He works with Mahmoud, his boss, but Mahmoud also has a boss, a bigger contractor who decides what they’ll earn and pays them.
And Mahmoud, who’s from Dura, lives next to the Tabish family. He knows Ayman, who’s in jail, and also his brother Muhammad, whom I also know.
And after we parted I thought about the lives of migrant workers, all manual laborers, within Palestine, in the small, restricted area of the West Bank, and about their limited opportunities to find a day’s work and barely make a living.
And I thought about the suspended sentence that military courts impose on Palestinians in addition to years of jail time and fines, that it’s the true hell because it freezes their lives and makes people live in constant, eternal fear.
And I understood that hell is the essence of the occupation and the fear and terror are the means and it’s the policy.
And then I thought that even though I know a lot about him, I don’t know his name.
He didn’t tell me, and I didn’t ask.
And that’s really a shame.