Qalandiya, Sun 6.6.10, Afternoon

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Ronni Hamerman and Tamar Fleishman (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Guest: Lindsay, a student from Britain


"An American citizen lost her eye last week at the Qalandiyah checkpoint after being struck by a tear gas grenade"



A person we know and who had witnessed the incident told us that on Monday, after word had spread regarding the event on the flotilla, a demonstration on the square in front of the checkpoint had started. One of the protesters headed towards the checkpoint fence and hung the flag of Palestine on it. This act served as a signal to those sitting in front of Big Brother's camerainfo-icon, observing the plasma screens: BP soldiers burst out of the checkpoint and ripped the flag off. The boys at the refugee camp started throwing stones at the armed forces, who responded by throwing tear gas: "they had special rifles", our friend told us, "that can shoot several bullets at once". Grenades of this type had been prohibited for use at short distance ever since the death of Basem Abu-Rahma after being hit in the chest by them, during a Bilin demonstration on February 2009. 

The BP spokesmen claim that: "The unit had acted according to regulations, and the grenade had hit the wall and from there it turned towards the protesters". But as our friend showed us, the distance between the shooters and the demonstrators didn't exceed 15 meters. The regulations prohibit the use of this deadly weapon at a distance that doesn't exceed tens of meters, and there is no site at the checkpoint with such a range.

On top of it, as someone who is familiar  with the site and the area where it all took place, and based on the photo published in the newspaper (see the link above), the wall (in contrast to what was stated by the BP) is nowhere near the place it all happened.

The young woman who was injured and had lost one of her eyes - fell down on the dirty ground while bleeding, she was picked by those who had surrounded her and was taken away from the site in a vehicle.

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After trying to figure out the reason why on occasion the ID numbers of people with blue identity cards- citizens (like us) or residents from Jerusalem and most of the Palestinians who are permitted passage, we had come up only with the assumption that the system/ sovereign/occupier, like an octopus spreading his  arms all around, the Israeli authority spreads it's many arms onto the bodies, pockets and freedom of the Palestinians, even those among them with special privileges. As though the permit and restriction regime, which like a ball and chain constrains their bodies and souls, isn't enough, while passing though Qalandiya checkpoint the soldiers find and capture people who have unpaid fines and own the country money: municipal rate, income tax and traffic fines etc...

And top of that, while they are stuck between the two turnstiles, some of them are requested to enter the inner room, and that person is left secluded by walls that conceal him from the public, from those who are waiting their turn or those who had already passed and quickly disappeared in the twisting rout. The way to the captain's office from that room isn't long.