The Qalandiya Routine the Media Will Not Report

By Tamar Fleishman

A long and sad line of woman, children and babies was passing through the checkpoint at the end of a day of prison visitations.

From one stretcher to another stretcher, from one ambulance to another ambulance, in the back-to-back procedure, a young man was being transferred after surgery back to his home in Ramallah.

Twenty five men, who were caught by the Border Police hunters at Zur Hadasa in the early morning hours, had been detained for the entire day. They had been taken five at a time to Qalandiya checkpoint ("they don’t have a vehicle large enough to contain them all, they said…") and from there they were sent off to Palestinian territories. Among them were people whose homes are in Hebron and Bethlehem.

Stones were thrown at the pillbox, grenades shot at the stone throwers and a lot of stifling tear gas was in the air. That’s the way it has been going on every afternoon for nearly ten days, so said acquaintances.

"It’s because people don’t have any money", one person said.

Some of the stand owners hurried to put away their products and disappeared. Those who couldn’t afford the loss of a few Shekels even in the midst of danger to their bodies and health, kept running between the stones and grenades, and seducing people who were rushing to and from the checkpoint with sunglasses, Koran verses, chewing gum, cellphone appliances and other items that nobody really needs but buys them mostly as a gesture of kindness.  

And Abed, the owner of a soft drinks stand that is made out of Pringles boxes designed like colorful ice cream scoops, pointed towards the holes in the roof of his store that were punctured by gas grenades.

When the soldiers got out of the checkpoint and headed armed with rifles towards the teenagers- pictures of whom I can’t send for fear they might be recognized- I noticed two soldiers discreetly climbing up the tower closest to the refugee camp, from where it is convenient to look on the area, identify the teenagers and guide the forces on the ground where to aim there rifles. I drew the attention of two teenagers who were among the leaders of those armed with stones, so that they watch out from the soldiers above.

I recalled an article published in the Israeli press according to which a representative of the settlers complained to the military authorities that the Israeli activists women at the checkpoints are a fifth column, they spy and then report to "the enemies of the state" about IDF movements, and thought this to be true.

For me, as for my friends, we have no doubt of the side of whom we stand at the occupied Palestinian territories.

(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. 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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