Qalandiya and A-Ram
On the winding road leading to the soldiers’ posts stood a woman, her head dropped and her body leaning on the separating railing.
“Are you ill?” I asked and felt stupid, because her tearful eyes, the trembling body, yellowish complexion and broken sobs left no room for doubt.
“Cancer”, the woman said, and tapped her chest. “To hospital”.
We crossed arms and proceeded slowly, step by step.
At the sight of her face people in line hurried to make way, and a toddler who was pushed aside with his mother looked at the woman and began to cry.
Inside the inspection post, opposite the soldier, we had to release our arms in order to hold our IDs.
The woman took out a green ID and a doctor’s referral and a hospital document and a transit permit, and held them to the glass window with both hands. I held my own blue ID above her green one. The woman’s body still trembled, her head bent forward and her face – like her papers – was on the glass pane.
The soldier’s eyes moved from the documents to the computer screen and back to us and then to the screen again and then to the two IDs, her green and my blue. Then he looked at me, not at her, and said: “You can get through. She can’t.”
For once I, who never lack words, could only utter “What…” “You can get through. She’ can’t.” Did he think I didn’t hear him the first time? And he explained to me, not to her: “She’s blacklisted”.
Then I lost it.
I don’t know what I said. I only know I said a lot, and that we wouldn’t budge. There was nowhere to go.
I have no idea why and how and how soon this quasi-miracle happened. I only know that the soldier then said in a soft voice, as though his voice knows that we are one: “Okay, go on”. Again we held each other and began to walk like one body, slowly, step after step. After one or two steps I left her for a second, returned to the window, to the soldier, and apologized. Even though I didn't know what I was apologizing for, I knew it was the right thing to do.
We still had a ways to go until the exit from the checkpoint compound, to the other side. A short-long way at the end of which, right there on the curb, she collapsed in a quiet sob, her head between her hands.
I called for help and the bus drivers at the gathering station took charge of the woman for the rest of the way.
I accompanied her with my gaze until she was seated next to the driver and I saw the thin hand raised in greeting and gradually disappearing.
Near the entrance to the vehicle checkpoint, during a coffee break, three pairs of legs rushed us over to catch Nicolas, a tourist from Argentina, who confidently stroke in behind the moving cars.
We grabbed him in the last meter before crossing the line of no return, the entrance to the killing ground – and pulled him back.
The fact that anyone crossing the no-return-line can be killed is one of those facts that “everyone knows”.
There, on the spot, no sign warns anyone. There are only armed men and rifles and from time to time – dead bodies.
A-Ram situation after the attack opposite police headquarters:
The air is full of teargas, the town smothered in smoke.
Bright smoke from the teargas grenades fired in by the army and dark smoke from burning tires rolled out by boys.
The youngsters of A-Ram broke out of the alleys, some of them with their faces covered, others bare, taking advantage of a few seconds between shootings to hurl stones at the soldiers who situated themselves on the hill and behind it.
“The shaheed” – so the Palestinians, “the terrorist” – so the Israelis – lives here, in A-Ram.