Qalandiya – “No work, no livelihood, no food”, said a cab driver at the checkpoint

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Tamar Fleishman. Translator: Tal H.

I came because this marks Fatah Day, and found no mention or memorial of this fact…

I came because on the evening of the last day of 2006 it was here that I met a man who became a dear and beloved friend, a man who - on the first days of that bloodletting of which we are all bleeding - along with his whole family were forced to leave their house in the northern Gaza Strip and were exiled to Rafah. Since then, we have kept daily contact broken only on days when the Israeli army disconnects the Gasza Strip from the phone networks.

I crossed the Checkpoint before 4 p.m. and still the exit towards Jerusalem was empty. On the other side, at the northern opening of the checkpoint, a long line of people waited. They all know that only at 4 the gatesinfo-icon will open but many arrive beforehand. Truth be told, those are the very few allowed through, the privileged among millions who for 3 months now, their lives and livelihood have been frozen and they are under harsh closureinfo-icon, lengthy and ongoing - nothing like it has been experienced for the decades-long military control of civilians in the West Bank.

A petition regarding active hours of the checkpoints was presented two months ago and supposed to be discussed by the Supreme Court on January 8th. Many depend on the ruling and getting things back to the way they were before war broke out. Time and the judges will tell…

People tell about their problems of livelihood, reasonless collective punishment, blocking exits from villages and towns throughout the West Bank: “No work, no livelihood, no food, we have been taken back perhaps 300 years”, said a cab driver who has been standing idle next to his car for 3 hours. He courts clients but there are none.

Look at them”, he said, pointing to the colonist houses on the hill slopes around. “Only they are happy with the present situation”.

If it weren’t enough that the general public there has been punished for no reason and no fault of their own, even the few who cross the checkpoint have no easy time going to Ramallah, a road that has been closed by a metal gate with chains and has been blocked off for months, a fact that makes it difficult for pedestrians and lengthens their trip - anyone who (like me) cannot climb and jump over must walk hundreds of meters more.