Qalandiya, Third Ramadan Friday

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Tamar Fleishman

Silently restrictions piled up until they became a literal tower.

Instructions pile up high, and one can only wonder whose warped mind thought up this pile.

Those in charge, army men, have no idea or opinion about the essence of their activity, only blind obedience and the ever-repeated “we’re just following orders”, no standing behind their word and/or deed, no historical memory nor echoes of a different time and place.

Who’s above and who’s below:

Those arriving at the checkpoint are ‘welcomed’ by an armed soldier placed above their heads. He is stationed inside a fortified tower at the entrance to the “sterileinfo-icon” compound, clear of any Palestinian touch.

The differences in height define and wordlessly emphasize the common hierarchy of ruler and ruled.

Three iron rules enable passage to the Friday prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque - age, prayer permit and magnetic card - and now there are sub-rules.

Both kinds share a single purpose - to reduce as much as possible the number of people observing the Friday prayer edict at their highest place of worship.


  • The grandfather arriving at the first inspection post with his two grandchildren who are not yet ten years old was told that every senior may only get through with one child, so the grandfather must choose which of the two will be turned back, and who will continue. Is this a variation on Sophie’s Choice?
  • A woman of the right age, holding a prayer permit and magnetic card was turned back shame-facedly because she showed a permit issued a week ago, and the sub-rule demands that such a permit be valid only for the required day of passage. Thus, just as the age must be exactly 55, not a day less, the same must be implemented regarding the paper permit issued neither for the previous nor the coming week. Precision, only precision.
  • Following the rules is top priority at all times.

Who and what were seen, and no less important - who and what were not:

Scant passersby traffic in the only gate (unlike the many gatesinfo-icon in previous years) to the compound in which the ‘fishermen’s net’ is practiced - that meticulous censure apparatus.

At the second inspection post, in the ‘sterileinfo-icon’ area free of Palestinians, a repeated, exact inspection (only according to instructions) is held. Whoever is found illegible and must be turned back is yelled at: “Go on, beat it, to your left!” and pushed back to the track leading back.

The grandmother who couldn’t and wouldn’t separate her two grandchildren who are not yet ten years old did not take part in this dirty game and turned back with both.

Rather desolate was also the gate which laundered language targeted as a ‘humanitarian crossing’. Most of the time the door was closed and those answering the criteria had to knock and yell until the gate was opened and the man/woman was inspected and let through.

Totally desolate and locked - they seemed to be part of the wall around the checkpoint - were the three gatesinfo-icon facing north towards the refugee camp, which in previous years were buzzing with thousands of women.