Friendship (with a Palestinian) that has no strings attached

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Neta Golan, Shuli Bar, Tal H. translated

Barta’a Checkpoint 5:55-6:20 a.m.

Little activity is seen where transports usually wait for workers exiting the checkpoint. In the stormy past, this would have signaled a highly crowded morning at the terminal and problems for those entering it. Since the number of Palestinian now permitted to enter Israel has significantly diminished, it now means that people reach the checkpoint at a reasonable hour, and now is even a bit early. At the Palestinian car park the entrance to the terminal flows unhampered. We feel a bit like an outdoors sculpture… standing at the exit with a smile on our lips and glad of every ‘good morning’ greeting sent in our direction. As we were leaving, a young man – Mustafa – approached us and told us that a while ago Sylvia bore the good news that his blacklisting was lifted. However a few days ago the Israel police caught him red-handed in the Israeli town of Harish presently under construction, and he was punished yet again. He is now prevented from entering Israel to seek work. Again he must roll the ‘prevention’ boulder up the mountain… He is nice, speaks Hebrew, is 40 years old, and completely sober about his chances to hear Sylvia phoning him with some good news tomorrow morning…

Agricultural Checkpoint Aneen 6:30-6:50 a.m.

It’s still early but already hot. A few pedestrians and two tractors exited the agricultural checkpoint towards the seamline zone, for work or to seek for work. Among them are adults over 50 who at this age are permitted to cross the checkpoint without documents and even to enter Israel. Those whom we saw here are headed for the town of Umm Al Fahm (inside Israel). At the end of our shift we saw a young man turned back home, and we didn’t know why. In the past we would done everything to find out why.

Agricultural Checkpoint Tayibe-Roumana 7:10 – 7:30 a.m.

Here too we saw few pedestrians and two tractors waiting. Crossing was smooth but one person was turned back.

In Umm Al Fahm we met with a Palestinian from the West Bank whom we had met recently at Barta’a Checkpoint. We used to see him a lot and speak with him often and he always impressed us as a very easygoing and pleasant man, polite, sensitive and warm. He is a contractor who is now building a large and complicated residence in Umm Al Fahm. We sat down to a modest breakfast together and had a friendly conversation about life, reality and everything in between.

If and when my grandchildren ever ask me what I did during the Israeli occupation I could confess that I made some dear Palestinian friends about whom I had previously known nothing, nor they about me…