Qalandiya - the turnstiles are locked and the sooldiers' posts are empty

Tamar Fleishman; Translator: Tal H.
Ahmad and his mom. Waiting for hours...
  • "I have only one thing to say to you: You are a disgrace. Simply a disgrace. Your job is to look after the welfare of the occupied population. And you just don’t give a goddamn.”

    Not that it ever crossed my mind that those on the other end of the line would pay any attention to this. I just hope that their phone calls are recorded…

    This was my seventh, perhaps eighth phone call to the DCO’s “humanitarian hotline”, and different from my previous calls, for I was expecting the usual repetitive answer that everything’s okay and normal.

    Everything, literally everything was not at all okay, in no way normal.

    The state of the checkpoint at this afternoon hour – not a time of pressure – was that hundreds of people were crowding both outside and inside the entrances and traffic was simply at a standstill. And the soldiers? –They were not there.

    Soldiers were present at only a single crossing track, and they functioned as in a slow-down strike.

    I didn’t call the DCO because of the hundreds of people who could not pass. They don’t need me for this, the guys answering the phone have plasma screens…

    I called because of 8-year old Ahmad, who with his mother arrived at the checkpoint and had to validate their transit permit in order to continue on their way home to Gaza.

    A few hours earlier Ahmad had been released from Nablus’ Al Najjah Hospital with a mask over his face and a bandage where the infusion needle had been stuck in his hand.

    For two and a half hours the mother and her son waited in front of locked turnstiles and opposite an empty soldier post.

    For an hour and a half I stood there with them. I called the hotline time and again, and every time I was told everything’s okay and normal. But it wasn’t okay and not normal, the way was blocked and the soldiers’ post empty.

    Ahmad got tired and collapsed into a crouch. It got colder and the mother covered her son with a coat, Ahmad was thirsty but there is no water in this place. I gave him my water bottle and continued to bother those on the other end of the line, asking them to please open the gate for the child and his mom, and kept hearing how everything was okay and normal.

    The hour of closing arrived and went, and Ahmad was certain not to get home the same day, and I called and told them what I really felt. Quoted above.