'Atara, Ar-Ram, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 8.3.09, Afternoon

Facebook Twitter Whatsapp Email

 Roni Hamerman, Ronit Bak, Tamar Fleishman (reporting and taking photos)

Bir Zait / Atara checkpoint

15:50- The Givati soldiers that had only recently come back from the battle field at Gaza, were once again running the checkpoint, but now they seemed to be calmer then ever before. They took less notice of the Palestinians and most of the time they were busy engaging in conversations amongst themselves. The result: traffic was flowing without any disturbance. 

Gaba/ Leel checkpoint

16:50- A vehicle was parked inside the checkpoint and from it dressed-up girl came out, they were distributing holiday parcels to the soldiers at the post. They later crossed the road and went towards the pillbox, not forgetting the eyes and mouths of the soldiers that were observing from above.

The checkpoint commander came to us and said: "Do me a favor, I would be most grateful if you could get rid of this checkpoint"- we promised to try.

Before heading on our way a military vehicle stopped right beside us, in it were two soldiers in uniforms that were just ironed. One of them said to us in Hebrew and a small portion of English: "we will accompany you on your ride". We were puzzled so the soldier apologized and explained that they were waiting for some American donors how were supposed to visit their unit.

- Are they still (or perhaps again) collecting charity from the Jewish communities abroad, for the poor IDF?  


17:00- We entered the town from the only side left open in the exclave. A perishing city, surrounded by a wall was revealed to our eyes.

We drove through Ar-Ram to the southern wall. We wanted to feel how it is to be on the dark side of the moon.

There was a melancholic atmosphere. We saw no anger, revolt or will for revenge. Only despair, a great and grim despair.   

While we were standing in front of the locked mettle gate, by the wall that suffocates the lives of the thousands living in it, a dark and horrible silence had immerged from the gray reality like a muted scream, while twilight broke.


17:40- Our friend, the coffee peddler, told us about the day to day reality during the mornings, ever since Ar-Ram checkpoint had been taken down. Hundreds of people had now joined on those thousands that had always been going there:  some on their way to work and others (children) on their way to school. He said it is especially difficult on Sunday mornings, the pressure remains until 9:00 AM and sometimes even later.

-          We wished him a happy holiday (the birth of the profit was due on the next day), but he informed us that many don't celebrate it any more. Those with a job wouldn't dream of taking a day off, from fear that they might get laid off.

We arrived at the checkpoint with a meter and decided to measure the sizes of the human cages. Here are the results from left to right:

Cage 1: 61 cm

Cage 2: 56 cm

Cage 3: 54 cm

-          Each week it is more and more evident that the maintenance of the facilities isn't sufficient: the other turnstiles weren't working and they were connected to the main poll in a most improvised manner, the intercom buttons haven't been working for some time now so no one can use the "humanitarian" gatesinfo-icon. A person carrying luggage will find it most difficult to pass through the cages, since they are so narrow, even a person who is a little over weight would find this to be a difficult task, but what about those on wheelchairs?

This is the real manifestation of idiocy

-          When we were heading back from the checkpoint we met a man carrying a large TV set, with which he was hoping to pass. After the security forces noticed him with their plasma screens, they opened the first turnstile and he found himself caught between the first one and the next. He was stood there for 20 minutes. We joined him as he was waiting.  A security man finally came to help him make way, but he didn't have a key to open the chain locking one of the gates (as I mentioned earlier they aren't working). He joined those waiting and got cross at us, in stead of being angry at the reality: "I'm not hear to play games...".  After a while a colleague of his arrived with the magic key, but they couldn't let the Palestinian out through the straight way as they weren't able to open the exit gates, so they had to walk him through the curving path together with his TV set: the went to the inner lot of the Kiryat Ha'Memshala and from there to the back passage.

It must again be pointed out that they call this place a "border passage"