A piece of Palestinian jewelry wreaked havoc at the Israeli military checkpoint of Qalandiya, located between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
The panic among the Israeli soldiers began when an 18-year old Palestinian woman arrived with her mother at that checkpoint on their way home to Jerusalem. A small piece of jewelry, made of gemstones set in metal clay kept beeping every time she attempted to pass the metal detector test.
Normally, the girl would have removed her piece of jewelry before entering. However, this was not an option as her necklace was attached to the garment she was wearing. The soldiers panicked as the beeping continued. They pushed the crowd of Palestinian travelers back. The entire operation ceased. No movement was allowed between Jerusalem and Ramallah, because of a small piece of jewelry.
What followed was shocking. I can’t describe it in detail, out of respect for the dignity of the young Palestinian woman. All I can say, that both the young woman and her mother were detained. I insisted on joining them during this harrowing episode. Soldiers threatened and verbally abused me. One soldier tried to push me away. I refused.
The daughter was eventually separated from the mother. I insisted on knowing the reason why. My heart was beating with tremendous fear. I know what happens in times like these. There are many stories that Palestinians refrain from sharing so as not to dishonor their women. I stood with the mother. All I could hear were soldiers barking at the girl in Hebrew: “Take your blouse off!”. The order was given four or five times. I don’t know how the young woman managed to understand what they wanted from her.
The young woman eventually emerged, silent, confused, humiliated. We all left without exchanging a word. What can one say in these situations?
As we walked away, I stared at the military wall surrounding us, besieging a refugee camp on the opposite side, the many black potholes and remains of burnt tires that Palestinians ignite in protest of the daily humiliation, of the occupation, but particularly because of the recent attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque, the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the war on Gaza.
(Translated by Tal Haran)