Qalandiiya - a winter's tale. What does it contribute to security??

Tamar Fleishman; Translator: Tal H.
A man in a wheelchair in the rain
A man in a wheelchair in the rain
Tamar Fleishman
  • “It was a winter’s tale, no more”

    A tale about people not seen as human and procedures that inhuman people have created.

    A tale of a man in a wheelchair not yet recovered from his surgery, in whose designated transport vehicle back to Gaza there was no longer sufficient room for him and his wife.

    They were waiting for a taxi. Not a regular one, but one whose driver is trusted by the occupation authorities to keep a watchful eye, lest the two escape on their way home.

    They were instructed to wait for it – not at the side, sheltered from the rain – but next to the transport vehicle. Why? So as not to be able to escape…

    “As the rain kept falling” the woman covered her husband’s head with a kerchief she took out of her bag.

    A tale about Maram who arrived at the checkpoint in a group of six patients who had been treated in Hebron, and were there to receive a permit to continue home to Gaza.23-year old Maram suffers from thyroid cancer.

    She directed my attention to the woman weeping on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint, a Gazan woman whose son is hospitalized in East Jerusalem, and has requested to be permitted to his bedside and was refused. The West Bank – yes, she may enter. But not her son in his hospital bed in East Jerusalem.

    Since it was already past 3 p.m. and since I saw the Gaza transport on the other side of the checkpoint ready to leave, and since I feared that they who came all the way from Hebron may not be able to continue home, I urged Maram and the others and joined them.

    At the DCO she was told, as were the others, that “the transport was already gone”.

    One man who collected everyone’s papers and presented them to the officer behind the glass window also heard that “the bus was gone”.

    Do me a favor, he begged.

    I don’t do favors, the officer replied.

    The man held up his hands and moved away. Then I came to the window and said, yes – the bus was gone and it was full and there are two leaving separately so perhaps another vehicle could be summoned from the same company?

    I’ll explain this to you, said the officer, and proceeded to inform me that all the way from Qalandiya to Gaza, the representative of the Gazan DCO holds responsibility for the passengers so that no one would escape and remain in Israel unlawfully. He also did not fail to add the golden phrase: “Let them come tomorrow.”

    Where will they go? Where will they sleep? I asked

    Wherever they came from, he replied.

    A hospital is no hotel, so where?

    The officer shrugged and said no more.

    After an hour of standing around facing the offices, a bunch of people, confused and desperate, stood outside the checkpoint, as each and every one of them tried to improvise a place to spend the night.

    Taking leave was not easy. There were many words of thanks and hugs that felt more bitter than sweet.

    The patients and their accompaniers went wherever they had improvised as a solution to pass the night, until morning comes and they would return to that same office, those same windows, and wait hours until receiving permission to go home to Gaza.

    I went to a place where hot tea is served, but “the night was freezing” and the vendors, old and young alike, stand there as though the rain does not strike their faces with icy arrows.

    It was a winter’s tale, no more”