‘All the Way to Holland’: The Routine at Qalandiya Checkpoint

'These are just routine inspections.' (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)

By Tamar Fleishman – Qalandiya Checkpoint, West Bank

“These are just routine inspections” said a soldier who was securing another soldier while she was training a dog, using vehicles owned by Palestinians.

To them this is a routine. Just routine.

But to those who had the misfortune of getting picked, and were forced to leave their vehicle, stand aside and watch a dog being led to their car, how it sniffs the tires, circles the exterior, jumps on the car, enters the trunk and the inside of the car, gets the seats dirty with his feet, crawls under the seats, drools everywhere and not stopping until it finds the scented ball that the trainer left for it, for these people this isn’t routine. For them this is a humiliation, an invasion to their personal space and an act of desecration according to their religion.  Because according to Islam the dog is impure.

Neither was it the routine of the woman who had been discharged from a hospital in Ramallah that morning.

According to the long list of illnesses this woman suffered from, which her husband enumerated before me one by one, she could be defined as a “complicated patient”.

The husband and his wife stood there for hours.

It’s hard to exit the Gaza strip but it’s also no breeze getting back in.

The husband was anxious that his wife might not take her medicine on time, he was concerned that they wouldn’t receive the permit before Erez checkpoint closes- where would they spend the night? And he was worried about their son who had been hospitalized that morning in Gaza after losing consciousness- he told this to me, a stranger, and not to his wife, as he didn’t want to add to her suffering: “By the time we get home, she’ll already know” he said.

And when the path opened before them, the husband took his wife by the arm, leading and supporting her, because she, whose legs were swollen and had a limp, couldn’t really see the way. The woman used the remaining of her strength to focus on raising one foot and then the other, one step at a time was how the two walked forward.

It was the first time this man visited Qalandiya checkpoint, he looked around and said with great disgust: “I’m never coming here again. Not even if I have to walk all the way to…” then he stopped to search for the right word and upon finding it he added: “all the way to Holland!”

(Translated by Ruth Fleishman)

– As a member of Machsomwatch, once a week Tamar Fleishman heads out to document the checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. This documentation (reports, photos and videos) can be found on the organization’s site: www.machsomwatch.org. The majority of the Spotlights (an opinion page) that are published on the site had been written by her. She is also a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and volunteer in Breaking the Silence. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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