Sunday,17 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1183, (6 - 12 February 2014)
Sunday,17 December, 2017
Issue 1183, (6 - 12 February 2014)

Ahram Weekly

A representative story

Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are subject to the whims of arbitrary Israeli power, writes Tamar Fleishman from the West Bank

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Al-Ahram Weekly

We usually prefer to exit Palestine using the Hizme checkpoint, where, unlike at the other exit checkpoints, there are no long lines of cars. We aren’t detained, and there is no need for identification or getting out of the vehicle to open and present the contents of the trunk. You merely have to slow down by the Israeli soldier on duty and answer a generic question like “how is it going?” with an “OK.” Sometimes even that isn’t required: you just nod your head, and that’s it, you can drive on.

But it’s different for us than it is for those who don’t pass the test regarding the face and accent of the driver. They, the Palestinians from East Jerusalem, in spite of being permanent residents who have the right of freedom of movement unlike the Palestinians on the West Bank are forced to stop, park their vehicles by the military post at the side of the road, identify themselves, exit their cars and open up their trunks so the soldiers can see inside. Their right to freedom of movement is relative, and they are subject to the mercy and the whims of the men in uniform.

One individual’s story can bear witness to the story of the public as a whole. The individual in this case was “A” who after visiting his family had intended to drive through Hizme on his way back. With him were his wife, his baby son and someone he knew who had asked him if he could ride with him to Jerusalem. “A” didn’t give the man a thorough inspection, and he had no idea what colour his ID was or the place of his address. He was just doing someone a favour. However, the soldier at the checkpoint did perform an inspection and found out that “A” was giving a lift to someone who wasn’t permitted to pass through a checkpoint intended only for settlers like the Hizme checkpoint.

The man was arrested and taken away, and “A” was told to turn off his engine and to stay in the vehicle. His car keys were also taken. “A,” his wife and their child sat and waited. But the baby, who had yet to learn that a soldier’s order must be obeyed, began crying and wailing. The minutes that passed were very long, and the crying only grew stronger. But the family could not step out of the car, and they couldn’t take the baby out of his seat in order to cradle him in his mother’s arms. “A” tried getting out of the car to reason with the soldiers, but he was told to stay in the vehicle so he was obliged to get back in.

After an hour, his car keys were handed back to him and his wife and child were sent back home. “A,” meanwhile, was taken to the police station. There he waited for another hour until he was given a summons to return the next day. Ever since he has been going back and forth to the same police station. Each day he waits for his name to be called, and then he is taken into a room, the piece of paper he was handed on the previous day is taken from him, and in return he is given a new piece of paper summoning him to come back the next day.

The time and the anxiety, not to mention the money, are all of no account to the Israeli police. Once he dared to ask why they weren’t handling his case and a policeman told him that he did not have time to deal with his questions. “But my case is part of your work,” “A” replied, but instead of an answer he just got another piece of paper in exchange for the one given to him on the previous day.

Yes, he will be back tomorrow, and perhaps even on the day after that. This is how the representatives of authority, who have unlimited power in their hands, handle people whose rights are conditioned by the circumstances of the occupation.


The writer is a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and a volunteer in Breaking the Silence.

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