Thursday, February 09, 2006
A really fucked checkpoint experience
I was going through Qalandia checkpoint on Tuesday night. It was 8 o'clock at night and about 3-4 degrees. When I crossed the checkpoint to get from Ramallah to Jerusalem I saw a group of 7 young men. The youngest looked about 13 and the oldest looked about 20. They were kneeling on the ground surrounded by Israeli soldiers.
The soldiers wielding rifles were telling everyone to move on and that there was nothing to see there. A friend and I refused to leave. An Israeli soldier had his hand shot at the checkpoint earlier that day so the Israeli soldiers shut down the checkpoint for several hours. Many of the Palestinian people became frustrated and decided to bolt through the fence.
These 7 were arrested because they were in a hurry and attempted to bypass a ckeckpoint on the West Bank side of the border. But the most absurd thing was that the shooting was not an act of terrorism or liberation. The shooting was an accident committed by an Israeli soldier. For this the Palestinian people were not allowed to pass.
Not only were these people arrested for something that was the Israeli governments fault but they were being abused as prisoners. Rather then letting them inside where it was warm, the Israeli soldiers kept them outside in the freezing cold for over an hour. My friend and I arrived at 8 o'clock and left at 9 o'clock. They were there before us and they were still there after we left. Our stopping to see what was happening meant that some Palestinians also stopped. They were better at arguing with the soldiers (because they spoke Hebrew and Arabic) and there was a lot of them so I left to keep an appointment in Jerusalem. I found out that they were probably released 20 minutes after I left.
The other really annoying thing is because all checkpoints are "closed military zones" I could not photograph what was happening without being arrested. So much for open transparent process democracy.