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Bericht aus Gaza - 16.7.2006
Bericht aus Gaza - 9.7.2006
Bericht aus Gaza - 6.7.2006
Permit haben.

 


 

“Mummy, do you know how much I love you?”
4.9.2006

 

"Mummy, do you know how much I love you? As big as America !"   This is what Luai told me as soon as I met him in Nablus.    I said to myself that even my four year old child knows the power of the United States.  

 

This happened last Wednesday.   I was informed at noon that I had a one-day permit to go to the West Bank and that another permit would be issued to me the next day to return to Gaza.  I  decided to take a risk and leave in order to meet my family and bring Luai back with me to Gaza.

 

I arrived at the Erez crossing point at 2.15 P.M. and was in Ramallah at 5.15 P.M.  I left Ramallah for Nablus with my husband at 6.15 P.M.  Before the Intifada this trip took only 45 minutes.

 

On the way to Nablus, near the Shilo settlement, we were stopped by "flying checkpoints", the expression used for moveable, non-fixed checkpoints.   We stayed there for only 40 minutes. Yes, it was a short delay.   There had been a car accident near this checkpoint and injured Israelis in the cars as a result.    This road is used by both Palestinians and Israelis.  When an Israeli car approaches a checkpoint it usually has priority to pass.  The road was a narrow, two-way road and the Israeli cars approached the checkpoint, leaving us and closing the other side of the road.   It meant that the Israeli citizens were now in danger because they were side by side with the Palestinian cars.  An ambulance also came to the checkpoint so the soldiers had to let the crowds of Palestinian cars pass quickly in order to allow the Israeli cars to pass quickly, too.  Their time is valuable, of course, and their security is also important!   This is why we spent only 40 minutes at this checkpoint.

 

We arrived at Hawara checkpoint at 7.45 P.M., which is the southern entrance to the city of Nablus.   Of course, we had to get out of the car and walk for about 800 metres from where the cars stop to the car station on the other side of the checkpoint.  Entering was easy.  There was no personal search or checking of IDs.  When we arrived on the other side of the checkpoint we found that there were hundreds of people waiting for their turn to leave Nablus. When we asked them when they had arrived at the checkpoint they told us they had come at 12 noon.   "The checkpoint is closed for the people leaving Nablus" a man answered.   "It seems that it's a rehearsal for the days of Ramadan.” he added.

 

I was happy that I could arrive in Nablus and meet my family, especially my son and my husband.

 

The next day I was told that my permit was issued and that I should proceed to Ramallah to collect it and return to Gaza.   I arrived at the Hawara checkpoint at 12 noon with my son and my husband. We had to take a car because of the luggage, which was very heavy.  We could not carry it when we were walking through the checkpoint because of the narrowness of the pedestrian section.   There were 12 cars waiting before us. Every half an hour a car left the checkpoint.  The excuse of the Israeli soldiers was that the X-ray machine to examine luggage was not working and they had to search all of the cars manually.   In the pedestrian section hundreds of people were waiting to get out of Nablus and the movement was very slow, as well. Of course, men and women are separated – one queue for women and another for men.

 

My child had been trying to sleep for three hours and he could not because like all children he sleeps only when the car is in motion.  I read three stories for Luai while we were waiting, Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.  Nevertheless, he could not sleep and was nagging constantly, asking me, “Why aren’t we moving?  Why does the Israeli army hate us?”  I could not give him a satisfactory answer.

 

At 3 P.M. the women’s queue was very short so Adi told me that it would be quicker for me to walk with Luai and take a service taxi from the other side.  This is what we did and Adi stayed, waiting with the car.   For the first time in my life I felt so happy that we have such customs and that the Israelis respect them.  (Usually, when I enter any public place in Gaza and see the separate queues, I use the men’s queue because I disagree with the principle.  But this time I didn’t even argue with Adi.  I obeyed him, went to the women’s queue and in 10 minutes I was out.)

 

I proceeded to the car stop station and took a service taxi with some others, leaving at 3.15 P.M.   Two minutes later we arrived at a "flying checkpoint". I felt like crying.      I left my husband at the Hawara checkpoint in order to arrive in Ramallah earlier and not to have Luai suffer a lot.  Now we would have to wait another few hours.  This is a crazy life!

 

But lucky us!  The driver decided not to go through this checkpoint and he drove via an agricultural road nearby.  The Israelis could easily see us.  They knew that some cars were going that way but they did nothing to stop them.  So what is the reason for this checkpoint?  It's not for security but for inhuman, humiliating purposes.

 

At this time I also learned that my permit to Gaza had not been issued and that I would have to apply for another and this would be issued the next day.

 

I arrived in Ramallah at 5 P.M. and Adi at 6.30 P.M.  We were all exhausted and went to rest early, knowing that my permit had been issued and that I could go tomorrow to Beit El (an Israeli military base near Ramallah) to pick it up at 10 a.m.

 

The next morning I went to collect my permit and was told that it had been announced that there would be a closure in the territories because of the Jewish New Year.   So I went back home, prepared for a long closure, thinking that I would be obliged to take leave from my work because of this, and I began to plan the next few days in Ramallah.  At 11 a.m. I was informed that my permit had been issued and that I should go to Beit El to collect it.   This time it was ready and I could take it with me.  The validity was for only one day, ending at 7 P.M.

 

I left Ramallah at 12 noon with a friend's family. It was Friday so the city was empty and we arrived at Kalandia checkpoint at 12.15. Here, we also had to leave our car and walk through the checkpoint. When we arrived, there was only one man waiting for the soldiers to let him in.  The checkpoint was empty because a closure had been announced the night before.   After we passed through the rotating doors (the Arabic name for this word is “Hallabat” – milking doors – used for the farm cows to be milked one by one) the soldier behind the window told us that there was a closure and that we were not allowed to go through.  We tried to explain to him that my permit had been issued half an hour before, during the closure, and that my friends had a Gazan ID card, which allowed them to return HOME.  He didn't even want to listen or look at the permit. He was allowing only people with Jerusalem IDs to pass through.

 

Kalandia checkpoint is almost like an international border, with X-ray machines and soldiers behind bulletproof windows.   

 

We decided to call the information number that I had on my permit and told them the whole story.  The soldier on the other side of the line told me to wait a little bit until he told the soldiers on the checkpoint to let me in.  We learned that the man we found waiting in front of us had not been allowed to enter and was waiting for the officer responsible for the checkpoint to discuss the issue with him. The man's family, wife and children passed the checkpoint by car and they were waiting for him outside. They have Jerusalem IDs.  The father has a family reunification permit for one year, which allows him to stay in Jerusalem with his family until his ID is issued. Still the soldier behind the window did not want to allow him in.

 

While we were waiting another woman came with three children, one girl around three, and two boys, 11 and 12 years of age. The soldier allowed the mother and the girl in but he told her that the boys should return home.  The woman was very strong.  She started shouting and screaming at the soldier, telling him that she has a Jerusalem ID and that the three are her children and she showed him their birth certificates through the bulletproof window, stating that he was obliged to let them through.  No way!  He was so stubborn that he sent her back.  At this point I was told by mobile that I could go in and the soldier behind the window told me to go through the rotating door.  When I passed it with Luai, the soldier changed his mind and started to shout again, “Gaza no.  Go back!”  He was talking on the phone in his office and then shouted again "Wait, put your ID and permit on the window," and he checked it and allowed me to go through. When I started telling him about my friends he said "Gaza no, it's closure"

 

So after a thirty-minute wait, I went outside the checkpoint to the car and waited for my friends. They also called the number on their permit and discovered that they needed co-ordination from the Erez crossing point to the Beit El office, which would call the soldier at Kalandia to allow them to leave.  This took us another hour of waiting. During this Luai was describing everything to the driver while we were waiting in the car. After one hour my friends joined us, we went to Erez and then into Gaza.

 

I learned from my friend that the woman with the three children waited until the shift of the stupid and stubborn soldier finished and the new ones allowed her in.  The other man was still waiting for the officer to come and study his case.

 

So, going to the West Bank and moving from city to another means that there is no time for anything but to cross the checkpoints.   I didn't even feel the joy of meeting Luai and Adi. The time that I didn't spend on the checkpoint I spent making calls to guarantee my permit to go back home.  Still, I am very lucky to be able to obtain a permit in spite of all the difficulties.

 

I thought that the suffering in Gaza was the worst but after this trip to the West Bank I think everywhere in Palestine there is suffering and that it is very hard to describe.

 

I really don't know how we are able to produce anything in our lives when there is no value given to the time needed to do anything.   We are losing land, it's true, but this might be returned one day.  At least, we still believe so and are struggling to achieve that.

 

But how can we retrieve all the time that we have lost in our lives because of the occupiers who do not consider us human beings?

 

 

Lama Hourani, Gaza City

2006-09-24 

l_hourani@yahoo.com 

 

 

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