Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 27.3.11, Afternoon
Translation: Ruth Fleishman
On the other side of the checkpoint, next to the refugee camp, an ambulance from Jenin was parked. In it was a young man who had one of his feet in a plaster cast, a pair of crutches were next to him and inside the bundle of documents he carried was an invitation to Makassed hospital: "He has a problem in with his bones", said the ambulance driver and added: "all the co-ordinations were preformed correctly, that's what they said at the Red Crescent. It was only when we got here, an hour and a half ago, that suddenly something was wrong with the co-ordinations…" The young man, Yusuf, added: "I had been at Makassed three times already, during my last visit there, on the eleventh month, I was told that if I won't arrive for treatment (surgery), they would have to amputate my leg…". Whether it was a coincidence or it had something to do with the phone call that was made from our cell to the Line for Health Permits, Yusuf had miraculously ceased to pose a threat, the co-ordinations were "valid" once again, and the Red Crescent ambulance headed on, for the second time that day, transferring the patient to his destination.
Yusuf called us from the hospital to say that he would go through surgery on Wednesday.
At the entrance to the checkpoint was an infant, he was about three years old, he grabbed the train of his mother's clothes while in her hands she held his two younger brothers. He was probably bewitched by the shiny metal of the turnstile, so he slipped away from his mother and held on to the turnstile's bar which was turning in his hand. The child moved along with the turnstile hinge, completing half a circle, he then found himself entrapped behind the bars, only a few centimeters away from his mother, who could do nothing to release him.
The mother and the people that stood near her started to panic. They waved their hands and tried to get the soldier that was in charge of the release button to take notice, but she just sat in her post, chewing her gum, idly staring at what was going on, doubtfully seeing the shadows of the people in front of her. After several minutes, which seemed like eternity, when the yelling grew louder and penetrated her fortified room, the soldier put her hands to action and the infant returned to his mother.
"The Nahal went out to the fields…" (taken from an Isreali song)
The transcript of Roni's conversation with the checkpoint commander:
- "Why is the young man sitting here in handcuffs?"
- "He is a suspect."
- "What is he suspected of?"
- "I'll send him off in a moment".
- "So he isn't a suspected anymore?"
- "No, he is a suspect!"
- "Then how do you know that he isn't suspected of anything anymore?"
- "I get my orders from above".
- "Did you send his ID number to some sort of an institution for examination?"
- "No. I'll send him off home in a moment…"
Sitting near the checkpoint was a man, he was leaning against the wall, his eyes were covered by cloth and his hands were pulled back, strapped tightly in plastic handcuffs.
From the evidence we gathered it seems that the arrest of this person was a local initiative and not an order from above. There was no "bingo" and we also didn't hear the most common alibi, which can never be confirmed: "The suspect is requested for interrogation by the GSS". The evidence to the fact that the soldier didn't really have a reason to keep this person at the checkpoint is that the young man's ID wasn't there and his personal background wasn't checked. It was probably an incidental arrest, the victim was taken from his home that afternoon by the Nahal soldiers who man the checkpoint. What for, and why?- Was it just for their plain amusement? – For the sake of the actual abuse? Or perhaps, they did it out of boredom, of which the soldiers at the checkpoints regularly complain?
It was clear from the persons pose that he was in agony. He stood with his back arched in an attempt to ease the pressure. The overly tight plastic handcuffs cut into his flesh, causing a swelling that made it hard to release him. The soldiers tried to insert a knife between the cuffs and his flesh for over ten minutes, but there wasn't a crack to be found, it was as if they were of one flesh.
The soldiers wanted the man to be quiet, and quiet he was. He just stomped his feet as the pain from the insertion of the knife became hard to bear. When he was finally released and sent off, he was told not to speak to us. The young man exposed his hands before our cameras, mumbled a couple of words and ran away down the hill towards the village.
Because of two Jewish women who had arrived there by chance at the right time, the man had been released on this occasion. Who will protect him and the many others like him on other occasions, other days, and who will be there at the dead of night?