'Atara, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 27.5.12, Afternoon
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
A woman carrying bags in her right hand, a baby in her left and her two elder children before and behind her was taken out at the vehicles' checkpoint and sent to the pedestrians' checkpoint. She stumbled slowly towards the other side of the checkpoint- accepting the verdict submissively.
One of the many that aren't permitted to pass the checkpoint by vehicle, because their personal status doesn't comply with the rules of the checkpoint.
Eight people that were taken out of their cab stood by the side of the checkpoint and in front of them was a soldier with his rifle's barrel pointing at their bodies.
One would have thought there would be tension or fear between them and him, but neither tension nor fear were evident, and that was awful.
Because this routine in which daily an armed man in uniforms stands in front of a group of citizens, none of which are wanted or plotting any schemes, is indicative of a severe illness, that perhaps has already become chronic.
At the center of the checkpoint, inside the vehicle that had been emptied of passengers, a dog from the Oketz unit was being trained by its trainer. Once the exercise was over the IDs were handed back to their owners and they headed on.
Our presence on the other side of the checkpoint caused a commotion and raised concern among the two soldiers and the checkpoint commander, they crossed the road toward us and shouted: "You're not allowed to take photos… you're putting us at risk… this is a military zone… what, it doesn't make sense that this is putting us at risk?... We are here to protect you and your children… just a week ago I caught a terrorist here with weaponry…" when they understood that right at the moment we were witnessing them holding weaponry, we heard: "It's not the same!... how can you make that comparison?- they want to kill us and we don't kill them…".
Their fear of the camera was real and once it was presented the activity of the soldiers was stopped and the dog was place in a special cage. When we drove away we noticed that the dog and its trainer were back in action.
The scenario we presented before one of the two trainers that perhaps just as she hides a bait for the dog inside the Palestinians' cars as practice for the dog, the weaponry found in the Palestinian's car was no more the a bait intended as practice for the soldiers, so as to keep them alert- was received with scepticism.
Atara/ Bir Zeit:
"Watch out, there are alerts regarding an attacker… we're waiting that they notify us it's certain and then we'll spread open the checkpoint… that's why we are ready with the webbing equipment…"said the checkpoint commander who walking in front of his soldiers when coming to check who we were and then returned to the post.
We waited for a while. Perhaps the story was fiction, perhaps the attacker changed his mind, we waited by the pillbox for about half an hour- nothing happened.
However, policemen on the road heading down from the hill on
which the checkpoint stands did spread open a checkpoint, just before the junction connecting with road 60 they stopped Palestinian vehicles to check their papers and preform a physical inspection on the drivers (what were they looking for?). When we ask with puzzlement about this inspection they explained that it was a routine activity.
Perhaps, but we had never witnessed such a routine.