Qalandiya - The bridge to the checkpoint turned a simple short walk into a winding, steep, never-ending corridor unsheltered and open to wind and rain in winter.
I went with Ronit who was meeting with a Palestinian after many months of not being at Qalandiya. I had read Ronit’s report and seen the pictures of the bridge but had found it very hard to visualize.
“Last night I went to Manderley again”. I don’t know why that sentence came into my head as I saw the bridge which has been built at Qalandiya. I think because the sentence had immediately inspired a feeling of dread. I had not been there for many months. I only know one thing. The first day that I ever went out with Machsomwatch…hard to believe it was nearly 20 years ago, was a rainy miserable day and we went to Qalandiya. I was completely bewildered. It was filthy, the traffic like the wild west, rubbish all over, people rushing trying to make their way through the confusion and mud and two small army posts for people to go through. But it was still better than the monstrosity I saw today. In fact, I think that, even at its worst, at that time the checkpoint was more humane than it is today.
I am not referring to the new building even though I feel that that too is only camouflage for the underlying evil of the whole concept.
I write here about the bridge and the only word that I can find for whoever built this bridge, which is supposed to make life easier for Palestinians, is malevolence.
I understand the fact as Sami, one of my old acquaintances whom we met, said to me that it was better than trying to cross the road. But he is a relatively young and fit man. On the other hand yesterday a Palestinian friend said that she has only had to go through it once as she lives on the Israeli side. She said she hopes never to have to do so again but her middle-aged sister who has to make the crossing every day into Israel and uses the buses said that she gets to work on the Israeli side completely exhausted. Personally I never found crossing the road so difficult. I find it hard to understand how a walk of a few meters to enter the checkpoint of old has been converted into a winding, steep, convoluted, unfriendly cement ramp, of the never-ending corridor... I wonder what will happen in the winter when the wind and rain will drive into this unsheltered bridge.
I myself am handicapped by a bad leg and walk between 5-7 kilometers each day and I found it very difficult. I do not understand how anyone in a wheelchair, electric or other, how a woman with a pram or children can possibly deal with the steep ascents as the corridors wind round and round. Maybe those who understand the purpose of this bridge will not agree with what I write but I write it as someone who is looking at it completely from the outside. I can only be thankful I do not have to cross it every day.