Qalandiya - fourth Ramadan Friday

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Tamar Fleishman. Translator: Tal H.

What happened in Qalandiya on the last Ramadan Friday was similar to all the previous Fridays, only more so.

More people crowded at the checkpoint entrance, more people had to turn back and go home, more armed people pointed their guns at the people who came to pray, more women and men turned to the only Jewish woman around, pleading with her: “Speak with them…”

For those who came this was their last chance of the year, perhaps the last chance in a lifetime, to take part in the traditionally special prayer at the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Here are two examples out of many:

The disappointment of those refused entry was extreme, and obvious on the faces of four women from Nablus and Tul Karem who had already passed their fiftieth year. None of them know what an ‘app’ is, let alone how to use one. So although they meet the criteria set for them by the regime, did not hold the passage permit to prayer.

They all handed me the certificate showing their age and begged me, “Talk with the soldiers”.

They were there for over an hour, distressed, then took leave and each proceeded home.


At the outer gate of the checkpoint compound, paced an acquaintance who had taken care ahead of time to obtain the necessary permit, passed all the inspections, came to pray at Al Aqsa, and happily went home. That evening, he was called by a GSS operative who asked him, “Where are you?” “Home” answered the man, and only then remembered that he had forgotten to place his magnetic card for reading at the machines of the entrance to Qalandiya Checkpoint. “Not true, you are in Jerusalem” the GSS man said crossly, and notified him that he who had until now been “clean” was now “blacklisted”.

Now the guy was traipsing between here and there, hoping to mend things. He too asked: “Perhaps you could talk to them?”

Talk to whom? I asked.

To the men (in the picture) who point their guns at the people coming to the checkpoint? To those trying to get rid of me, too?

In the photo, the track of those sent back:

On my way back, going through the corals, through the fence on the border of the facility I noticed an elderly woman supported by the young Palestinian first-aid workers who seated her in a wheelchair and led her out of the compound. The whole time, an armed soldier stood there, guarding.

Guarding from what? From the woman who cannot even stand on her own feet without help? How pathetic the sight, as others.

In hindsight, I was hit by the realization that not only should one speak of what is present here - one must write about what there isn’t. It’s the ‘isn’t’ that is most marked here, shouting: There are no children here.

I returned Primo Levy, specialist of memory, who wrote:

“On the threshold of consciousness, many people, even entire peoples, feel that ‘any foreigner is a foe’. This belief is usually well-hidden in the depths of one’s soul as a chronic infection.”*

*Ecce Homo, translated into English from the Hebrew translation