Monday, January 19, 2009

Huwwara checkpoint: it would seem to be nothing

Photo: Palestinians waiting to be checked by the Israeli soldiers at the Huwwara checkpoint at the exit of the city of Nablus.

Huwwara is on of the 7 big checkpoints surrounding the city of Nablus. There is no other way in or out of the city than crossing them. If you work or study in Nablus and live in the outskirts, waiting in line sometimes for hours is your daily experience.

When you see Huwwara there is an inevitable association to industrial cattle corridors. It is particularly crowded on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings when students go home for the weekend (Friday and Sutarday). Today it was rather a usual number of people and still it was quite an unpleasant experience. On my own, with a backpack, I suddenly found myself among a crowd of people squeezed between two metal barriers. Like cattle. Although many times I was told about it and shown pictures, to really understand one must go through it. But what for me was a one-time travel experience, for all these people it is daily life.

After crossing this checkpoint I felt like crying. When I reached the soldier, he briefly asked me where I am going and said "Have a nice day". So ironic, I thought. I will be honest with you, I have not been crying here even while hearing stories of people being shot and witnessing settlers attacking old people. But seeing this constant humiliation broke something in me. I had to hold up tears to hop on the litte yellow 'service' and continue my travel.

A young man sits next to me asks: -Have you seen this? What do you think?
Well, there is not much I can say. I try to express my disagreement with the situation and explain our work as a programme. He seems very depressed and says:
-You know you cannot do anything for us, don't you? I know that people in Europe have no idea about this and think we are the terrorists.
- "No, not all of them, some of them know.....".
Before getting off the bus he writes his email address on a little peace of paper and hands it to me.
-Please, write to me and tell me what your people said about it!

Dear all, lets give this man some hope, he is a lawyer and goes through Huwwara every single day, having to raise his shirt up to show he does not have explosives.
Feel free to leave your comments here or send them to my email, and I will be more than happy to forward them to him. Thank you.

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