Ar-Ram, Qalandiya

Observers: 
Tamar Fleishman; Translator: Charles K.
Sep-20-2015
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Afternoon

I’ve already written about Ahmad from the Qalandiya refugee camp who was arrested a few years ago, accused of rock-throwing in the camp during Fatah Day demonstrations, and who I photographed eating a sandwich while being led away by the soldiers, and I came to the Ofer court to give his attorney the photos proving Ahmad was innocent, and then, perhaps because they knew I’d taken photographs, they changed the accusation to having thrown a Molotov cocktail a few months prior to his arrest, and claimed an officer had identified him by his shirt on which “Fox” was printed.

 

His attorney agreed to a plea bargain and Ahmad spent 16 months in prison.

 

So why am I again writing about him?

 

Because three days ago he was arrested again and he’s back at Ofer.

 

I wasn’t able to photograph Ahmad.  Ahmad’s not here, he’s at Ofer.

 

He, who’d been a youth, is now a man.  Last month he married, and in addition to his wife he supports his widowed mother; his father was murdered during the first intifada:  “Soldiers shot him as he walked on the street, here in the camp.”

 

So I photographed the photograph I took of Ahmad after he was released from Ofer, which is posted on a panel on the wall of his place of work when he’s not at Ofer.

 

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A number of patients were also at Qalandiya, who’d been released in the morning from hospitals on the West Bank and arrived at the checkpoint and entered the DCL offices to obtain permits to return home to Gaza, and after all had exited with the permits and continued on their way two, Maryam and Ahmad, remained without permits and without ID cards.

 

“Come back later,” they were told.

 

“I’ve been waiting here since this morning, I’m sick, I haven’t any strength left, I want to go home,” Maryam said, in tears.

 

And Ahmad?  Ahmad was frightened.  Afraid to return to the office and afraid not to return to the office.  Ahmad was afraid lest… afraid to say what he was afraid of.

And when the DCL loudspeaker called Maryam’s name she wiped her tears, straightened her headscarf, stood erect and entered.  She emerged a few minutes later with a smile on her face and a paper in her hand with which, with it alone, she’s allowed to return home, to Gaza.

 

 

 

And Ahmad?  They called him also.  He entered hesitantly and emerged without a smile on his face or a permit in his hand:  “They said they’d contact me, maybe tomorrow, maybe another day.”

 

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A long column of armored vehicles brought an entourage of “Very Important People.”

 

They parked in a line blocking the road, soldiers were stationed as human shields, and the people, some in uniform, some not, climbed to the top of hill beside the wall where they brainstormed.  They were too far away for me to hear what they said, but I could see them waving their arms toward Palestinian territory.

 

The army’s way of dealing with the anger and fervor of the youth from A-Ram who throw stones at the main road and at military vehicles is with collective punishment:  The entrance to A-Ram is blocked by concrete barriers,

 

which moves the soldiers out of range of the stone-throwers but keeps the latter in range of the soldiers’ bullets.

 

Soldiers stood in position opposite the blocked entry gate, armed and watchful.

 

And A-Ram residents, who weren’t considered when the entrance was blocked, or perhaps someone had thought of them, must trudge through a barren field covered with rocks and thorns to reach the main road and avoid the stones and bullets.