Translated by Saed Bannoura
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was nearly four in the afternoon, we stepped out of the Taxi and rushed towards Qalandia checkpoint, south of Ramallah, in an attempt to be the first there instead of waiting in long none ending waiting lines, but when we reached there we found a long line of cars which extended for more than 500 meters.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Dusty winds, garbage all over left by sellers carrying there goods trying to sell anything to the people on the checkpointÃ¢â‚¬Â
Issa Taqatqa, a journalist from Beit Fajjar, a village near Bethlehem was coming back from Ramallah after conducting an occupational training course said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“We waited under the sun for more than ninety minutes, waiting to be allowed to cross, yet after waiting for long hours Taqatqa wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allow to cross, after army claimed that he does not carry the needed permit to cross Ã¢â‚¬Å“from one Palestinian area to another Palestinian area!Ã¢â‚¬Â
He had long discussions with the soldiers, attempting to convince them that he is a Journalist, but his International Press Card wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t useful amidst the dust and long waiting hours, yet he returned back to Ramallah, were he barely known anyone there.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Maybe if I was allowed to pass, I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be able to find any car to take me back to Bethlehem, no cars are driving after 6pm, they want to reach home as early as they can after being stopped so many times on military checkpointsÃ¢â‚¬Â, he said to himself.
Yet his bad luck brought him to one of the hardest checkpoints in the West Bank, Qalandia checkpoint, which have been erected since the first months of Al-Aqsa Intifada, some for years ago.
Issa said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“no one can avoid this checkpoint easily, I could have been with my wife and kids now, if it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t there, my kidsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦who have been waiting my return since several days now, if I want to take other sub roads and avoid it, it would take me hours in addition to big amounts of money, yet I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if I will be able to make it in time and find my kids awake, or even make it at allÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Everyday people face there sufferings, insults, bad treatment and all sorts of spiritual torture, while soldiers, who apparently became perfect in making the lives of the people bitter, are there to add more complexity to the whole situation.
People have to pass through four or five checkpoints, sometimes even more, yet on every checkpoint a new torture and insult, and long waiting periods in the hot burning sun or cold chilly weather.
On each checkpoint you have to empty your pockets, raise your hands, sometimes even you have to take your boots off in order to pass through that electronic new hell, the Ã¢â‚¬Å“electronic gateÃ¢â‚¬Â which is placed on Qalandia checkpoint.
After all of this suffering, soldier yet have to check you again, check you identity card number, permit, while hundreds are not allowed to pass at all for whatever claim soldiers can find, mainly for Ã¢â‚¬Å“security reasonsÃ¢â‚¬Â which is the easiest most common used reason.
You can find there, people from different parts in Palestine, one of them is from Shofat refugee camp near Jerusalem, yet he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allowed to cross while his wife and kids were told to pass, one of his kids was crying and screaming wanting his father to cross with them, yet he had to return and attempt to find another hard way to avoid checkpoints.
Mustafa Mohammad Mustafa, 20 years old, from Beit Iksa, north west of Jerusalem was waiting on the checkpoint, carrying his laptop, yet soldiers found it amusing not only to search him, but also to search Ã¢â‚¬Å“the internal parts and chips of his laptop!, maybe they would find a bombs there!Ã¢â‚¬Â
People facing these hardships and humiliations, wonder what will happen if they were allowed to pass from one Palestinian area to another Palestinian area! Is it really for security reasons, is it dangerous or a threat to the Israeli security if they return home! Is it part of the duty of those soldiers to humiliate the people and make their lives harder! Is it a new game of torture!
One thing is for sure, it is a story of daily suffering, a story of a besieged nation, a story of a divided land and people, the story of soldiers who are there just to make the lives of those people harder!