What I Saw in Beit Hanina, Shireen Abu Akleh’s Neighborhood (PHOTOS)

Israeli forces attack Palestinians protesting the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Tamar Fleishman

Qalandiya military checkpoint separates those who are granted rights from those who are denied them.

Yet, on both sides, there are people who are not really different. Neither Israeli military checkpoints nor the apartheid wall can tear them apart, or diminish Palestinian will for freedom.

The baby girl in her mother’s arms at the Qalandiya checkpoint is no different from any other children living nearby.

“She is a year and a half old”, said the ambulance driver. 

“No,” said the mother, for whom every single day in her daughter’s life counts: “She is one year and ten days old”.

The baby has to undergo surgery at the Saint Joseph Hospital in East Jerusalem, due to a bladder condition. 

Just as her mother counts every day, I was counting the minutes they had to wait to cross the checkpoint and reach Jerusalem. 

Due to a bureaucratic problem, the mother and her daughter had to wait for fifty minutes. 

A few hours later, I went to Beit Hanina – the residential neighborhood of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who had been murdered at dawn on that same day. 

Many Palestinians gathered there to protest while a large number of Israeli soldiers tried to disperse the crowd, attacking the protesters and arresting them. 

We stood there, in a large crowd, while Israeli police officers kept pushing us violently.

A young man standing behind me yelled at the Israeli policemen:

“You don’t have much time left!”

When he repeated these words a second time, a group of Israeli policemen pushed him to the ground with his face down, keeping him down with their knees. 

As the Israeli commander in charge realized that the crowd was constantly growing, he yelled on his phone: “Bring out the Border Police with sponge ammo!” 

Soon, other Israeli officers arrived, with sponge ammunition, while a ‘skunk’ vehicle came from the other direction.

I heard an Israeli policeman saying: “Arrest the woman with the red bag”.

I knew I was the woman with the red bag, but I got carried by the huge crowd and disappeared. 

I remembered what I was told a few hours earlier by Mohammad, the Palestinian paramedic who moved the baby girl from one ambulance to another: 

“If you think everything you do and write helps someone or changes anything – it doesn’t.”

(Translated by Tal Haran, Edited by Romana Rubeo)

(All Photos: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

– 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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