Qalandiya, Fri 18.6.10, Morning
Qalandia 18 June 2010
Translation: Suzanne O.
In the latest reports from Qalandiya much has been said about the filth and stench at the roadblock, the situation seems to be much worse than all the descriptions and in these surroundings men, women and children stand for hours in order to use their prayer permits for the El Aksa mosque in Jerusalem on a Friday.
All those who talked to us explained that they are using their above entrance permits because they want to get to the mosque for prayers, to wander round the old city a bit but also to demonstrate their bond to Palestinian Jerusalem which has been taken away from them, the difficulties at the roadblock are meant to put them off using their permits and that is another level of the Judaisation of the city, and its sequestration from the Palestinian people. They, therefore, see their persistence as a protest.
To remind you of the facts: prayer permits are given to men and women over the age of 50, children up to the age of 12 only can accompany their parents.
A first time permit does not have to be supplemented by a magnetic card, after the second time a magnetic card is needed. The permits are granted by the Israeli civil administration from a list put forward by a member of the Palestinian municipal council.
Residents of many towns are only allowed to cross via Qalandiya roadblock and prayer permits are subject to security factors even if the Palestinian requesting it is very old, as we heard from many people.
The situation at the roadblock changes from one Friday to another according to the person in charge, today was a very tough day, we were told that "last week it all went swimmingly". The waiting room is full, in the narrow cage in front of the first entrance turnstile the people are squashed against each other. The turnstile opens every 15 minutes.
At 9:00 a.m., everyone reported a waiting time of two hours and the exit still seems far away, the expression on faces of the people show no expectation of a good day, just bitterness, anger and hate at being made fools of again, they are not considered human beings, they are treated like animals in a cage, the whole day is suffering and oppression, the expression "t'lum and ad'av" are repeated all the time, suffering and oppression. The children were badly affected and started to run round the heaps of rubbish in their best clothes. Meanwhile we heard the political rationalization that they are there to show their opposition to the sequestration of Jerusalem from the Palestinian people.
A group of women from Tulkarm wore handmade badges 'Tulkarm Women's Committee' and every time the turnstile opened they started to mumble - basem allah, basem allah - a prayer that they may manage to cross before it closes again. This group of women had a particularly clear protest because, they said, we will not be deterred by having to stand for so many hours: you will not sequester Jerusalem. We are a women's committee, last night we prepared cardboard badges and wrote who we are on them in black felt tip.
Absurdly, a woman born in 1934 receives a permit but her daughter, born in 1953, is refused on security grounds, they told us that a short while ago three sisters, all over 80 years of age, arrived together from Tulkarm but were turned back because they didn't have entry permits. We saw that a woman who appeared to be over 90, did not get a permit, she had come with her granddaughter who had a permit because she is over 50, the granddaughter tried in vain to talk to the female soldiers but they abided by their orders and the law.
Women, wearing jewellery which they had probably not taken off for years, almost did not get by the metal detectors.
Little girls waited on the other side of the bars for a father who was still caught up in the men's queue and little boys waited for a mother from the women's queue, they are not allowed to cross alone and they are not allowed to approach the male or female soldier inspecting before their parents join them.
And again the mutterings against all this suffering and oppression, why do we not have the natural right to go to the El Aksa mosque, it is ours, you came here and threw us out, we were here first.
And in the last check posts the spitefulness continues, every so often one or other of the check posts is opened or closed, and announcements are made through the public address system. The first time no one understands anything, the second time the language is recognised and perhaps the word 'wachad', Arabic speakers and Arabs don't understand a word, the third time it is clear that the person speaking into the microphone is very angry so, in order not to endanger themselves, they all move backwards, the fourth time the speaker announces unpleasantly that none of you understands anything, "warra, warra, warra, warra" I said, "and not one", "only three and four". Now it is clear, they once again get into the queue at the open check post.