‘Take photos!’, young Palestinian men urged me while they were being chased by Israeli soldiers. The youth were hoping to cross the Israeli checkpoint to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to pray on the final Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.
‘Take photos!,’ a Palestinian woman yelled, while crowding, with others, on the opposite side of the Israeli military compound.
I took pictures of both groups, as well as of the women who appeared on my way to the Qalandiya military checkpoint like a mirage on this foggy morning.
The last Friday of Ramadan was like the culmination of all the awful experiences of previous weeks, all instigated by the Israeli military matrix of control imposed on ordinary Palestinians who were trying to lead ordinary lives despite the occupation.
I saw a friend lining up to cross the checkpoint and I suggested she sneak through an alternative route. The woman looked at me, shook her head and said: “If they saw me, they would shoot me in the head”.
What I always see at the Israeli military Qalandiya checkpoint is a typical Orwellian scene.
The only shred of humanity comes, as usual, from the Palestinian volunteers who help the elderly and the disabled, try to pick babies and children up and hold them until their mothers cross the checkpoint.
Sadly, I was the only Jewish person not holding a weapon. A Palestinian youngster yelled: “You are an Arab, there are only Arabs here”. While saying that, he smiled at me, expressing feelings of friendship and warmth.
I smiled back.
(Translated by Tal Haran; edited by the Palestine Chronicle)