Vivi S., Roni H., Tamar F., Shosh and Gordon, guests from Australia; Translator: Judith Green
The fourth Friday of Ramadan
At the checkpoint, they are trying to understand who is allowed and who is forbidden and whether or not the IDF still, or once again, cares about how it looks.
A very complex system of permits and refusals results from the "I decide" approach, "I enforce all the adsubdities, I change my mind according to ridiculous criteria and my rather narrow and instinctual understanding".
The price is on you, the Palestinians. You have to obey, to submit, to be harassed and humiliated, because that is how things are; Jerusalem is mine and the mosque is in my hands, and you have just a paper in your hands which I issued and I determined if the numbers on it find favor in my eyes.
The price is high. Thousands of women, children, babies and older people arrive, totally worn out after a long journey, shoved up to the point of mortal danger between the cement barriers and the barbed wire fences and the sewage channel and piles of garbage. There are also young boys and girls in the line, with the small hope that perhaps the channeling system will fall apart, just for a moment or will make a mistake. On the faces of all of them, an expression of deep distress and anxiety.
The rules - permitted to women over 30, men over 50, little girls under 16, boys under 12, women between 16-30 only with a permit; men between 18-30 even without a permit, children of the correct ago only with showing their ID. Handicapped people only escorted by the Red Cross, a man escorting his elderly mother will be sent away at a distance where there is passage for men, quite far away, and - god wiling - they will meet up afterward.
This system of rules is applied for hours. Naturally, families which arrive together, and have members of different ages, are separated. The mothers are worried about their daughter, how she will manage alone all day in Ramallah, while she is really from a different area, or they are very upset about their bag which has in it everything they will need during the day and was left behind with the daughter or son. We heard a lot of "I need my suitcase!" If you say to her, "go back to take it", she will answer "but I will never succeed to get through again because of the crowding."
After several hours, around, the system in fact does break down a bit, and afterward it totally disintegrates. And those who had patience and stamina and didn't give in or collapse go through as though there was no checkpoint at all.
The checkpoint, with all its contingencies, is very very close to the Kalandia refugee camp where families are mourning their sons who left the house to the checkpoint, or to a demonstration, and didn't return and are now present on the posters on the walls and fences, like many other places in the West Bank.