Qalandiya - first Friday of ramadan
First Ramadan Friday
Emptiness – that is what was first encountered.
A visual trompe-l’oeil of no hundreds of thousands of people whose innermost desire on that day is their prayer at the Al Aqsa Mosque.
The first human appearance was a Palestinian woman, her hands in metal shackles behind her back, led against her will and welfare by Border Policewomen towards the inner compound of the checkpoint, and no more to be seen.
The police version of an explanation: she attacked a policeman.
An entire hour went by until I managed to break the wall of instructions for this particular day and reach the other side of the apartheid wall, a distance that for the eye is rather less than a stone’s throw.
All ways and gates between here and there were locked and blocked. We went back and measured and crossed the entire length of the elevated bridge, and saw only locks and fences everywhere.
We are locked in, all the time and everywhere, a desperate young Palestinian said who had joined me.
After crossing the turnstiles and policemen and armed security guards – chaos appeared. No one knew who is allowed through and who isn’t, who would cross to get to the Al Aqsa prayer and who wouldn’t.
Gates for women on the right, for men on the left, and in between – a ‘sterile’ area untrodden by human feet.
Both openings, the women’s and the men’s, were run carefully and callously.
Both are crowded from the outside by human masses, most of whom were chased away by brutal words and hearts.
As the heat grew and the sun intense, before the passages were closed and the metal barriers dragged in, I entered a dark and cool grocery shop of an acquaintance in the refugee camp, and asked if it was alright for me to sit and drink something at the bottom of the shop, he answered:
“Do what you want. Think that if you fast on Yom Kippur, I too have to fast?”