A shift in Barta'a through foreign eyes

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Rachel Weitzman, Ruti Tuval, Guest Ines a visiting architecture professor from London Univ.

We were delighted that our lovely guest agreed to write a sort of report from her fresh point of view instead of (our) another routine report.

Dear Ruti, dear Rachel,

Thank you so much for taking me with you this morning to your work monitoring the checkpoints with Machsom Watch. I was shocked to see how this beautiful landscape – and of course, the passages and livelihood of Palestinians – are being interrupted and parcellated by roadblocks and checkpoints, watchtowers. At checkpoint Tura we saw a grandfather picking up his little 4 year-old Jamilla from a frightening place of fences, barbed wires and rubbish all over.

On our return via checkpoint Barta'a, strangely, the fact that I was discovered by the border guards as an outsider without papers, led us to an area of border checks that was probably also unknown to you. For the Palestinian families that we met there and that spoke to us, it was a miserable routine. Well hidden under large tents, cars could be checked for special searches. When we were asked to leave the car under harshly spoken instructions by guards, a dog was sent in to sniff through belongings. Passing a bag search and a waiting area moved us further from visibility into dirty waiting areas. Two Palestinian ladies with two children clinging to them looked so worried, it was painful to see. When you ask the arriving workers about their treatment, many of them answered with a friendly “hakol beseder” (all is good). Well nothing seemed “beseder”, but in their answer was also the appreciation of your presence. You are very courageous to confront soldiers with the absurdity of this situation. I was so moved to see the smiles and greetings from those who made it through. Clearly, your effort is much respected, even if it is just to be there, to witness, document and empathise.