Qalandiya Checkpoint is undergoing renovation works
Qalandiya Checkpoint is undergoing renovation works.
These have already caused much consternation because the car-park has been destroyed, the bus stop has been much further away, and the route to now be taken by pedestrians is potholed and strewn with rocks.
The victim this time was a nun who was slowly crossing what had been the bus depot, the whole length of which had been ditched by a D9 bulldozer.
Among the shards, rocks and clumps of soil the elderly nun tripped, her whole thin body falling to the ground. Passers-by rushed to help her up, supported her arms and nearly carried her to her destination, on the other side of the checkpoint.
The designated transport vehicle for patients returning to Gaza was already parked at its designated platform, waiting.
Behind the broad back of a security guard and against the restrictions placed by ‘human’ laws and local ‘laws’, I managed to reach the DCO.
There, in the waiting shed in front of the offices, and in a special room designated for the Gazans, a room that has only metal benches and an air conditioning unit working full blast and creating heat as if this were not a room but an incubator – making most of the patients cross over to the waiting shed in front of the DCO offices – men women and girls sat and waited.
A woman asked me to photograph her husband sitting in his wheelchair, which reminded me of the words I have heard more than once while patients are being transferred between ambulances: “Take a picture and show everyone how we’re being treated.” I did. Later the woman asked me to give her husband “something sweet, if you have it.” I had it. I gave it.
8-year old Maryam was also waiting there, having been released from the A-Najjah hospital in Nablus where she had undergone spinal column surgery. Most of the time Maryam lay on a prayer rug that her mother had spread over the metal bench.
A little while before 4 PM, a girl’s restrained, long whine shafted the silence. It was a girl, about 10 years old, one of her arms in a plaster cast and her neck restrained in an orthopedic collar. “She’s post-operation, suffering and miserable” said her mother, trying to calm her daughter down by stroking her head and offering her a bag of snacks. But the girl persisted, suffering, miserable, wailing.
“Patience is a must” said a man who spent hours awaiting his turn to enter the DCO office. But I, who spent “only” an hour and a half there, I have not the quiet patience that decades of oppression have etched in Palestinians.
As the DCO officer arrived to lead the group to their transit vehicle, a long, tired, crowded procession of people who have suffered hours of waiting without food or drink exited – having been moved from prison to prison to yet another prison. Minutes before 5 PM the transit vehicle took off.
When Maryam boarded the Gaza-designated vehicle, after about 9 hours of waiting at the checkpoint, and seated her doll next to herself, she sent me a heart-rending farewell smile.