‘She is One of Us’: Gladiator Games at the Qalandiya Checkpoint

Israeli soldiers manning the Qalandiya checkpoint on the first Friday of Ramadan. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Tamar Fleishman

The Israeli government recently claimed that they will be easing some restrictions of movement in order to allow Palestinians freedom to worship during the holy month of Ramadan.

But when I visited the Qalandiya checkpoint on the first Ramadan Friday, I realized that these claims were unfounded. 

I was not surprised, as where there are no human rights, there cannot be freedom to worship. 

Israeli soldiers now use cell phones instead of computers to inspect everybody, men and women, to verify that they have the necessary permit. Only then, they would allow Palestinians to cross the checkpoint – or send them back –  in a way that is reminiscent of the Roman Empire, where emperors pointed their thumbs up or down during gladiator games.

Israeli soldiers do not show any compassion or sympathy for elderly Palestinians when they order them to go back, banning them from crossing, using a cold, detached tone.

In the darkness of occupation, however, a single event brightened my day. 

An Israeli officer tried to start a conversation with me in English, then he realized I spoke Hebrew and he said: “So you are one of us”.

But a Palestinian youth, who I have known since he was a child, promptly answered: “No, she is one of us, not one of you!”

(Translated by Tal Haran. Edited by Romana Rubeo)

– As a member of Machsomwatch, Tamar Fleishman documents events at Israeli military checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Her reports, photos and videos can be found on the organization’s website: www.machsomwatch.org. She is also a member of the ‘Coalition of Women for Peace’ and a volunteer in ‘Breaking the Silence’. Tamar Fleishman is The Palestine Chronicle correspondent at the Qalandiya checkpoint.


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