Posted by Pia på måndag 2 juli 2007
Picture this: a hot and dry day, me and three other people in a car, driving at double the speed limit on a way between the village of Sinjel and the city of Ramallah. The driver, a professional photographer, seems to have a passion for race car driving, the gas pedal touches the floor until we’re 50 meters from a sharp curve, then the brakes scream for a moment, and we’re back at record speed. Impressing hills and valleys. The co-pilot doubles as DJ and mixes with the radio channels until we find the perfect song about love and despair (there are no other songs) and he plays it at full volume. They all teach me to say ‘Al-haya helwa’, (life’s great) and we share the nothing-can-stop-us-now feeling.
But we’re wrong. Something can stop us. The mood just drops as we turn another curve and join the line of cars waiting to pass the first Israeli checkpoint. This one is ‘solid’, meaning that everyone knows that it’s there. Our race car driver explains who we are and this time we don’t have to show any ID, be interrogated or asked to step out. But that just depends on the mood of the soldiers. The same morning they stopped us twice because there was someone who didn’t look Palestinian in the car (me).
There is no real point in having to stop cars on the way from one village within Palestine to another. Emergency cases and ambulances are mostly waved through, but not always. Babies have been born in the queues, and sick people have died. Sometimed the roads are closed altogether. The Israeli soldiers also have a tendency to put up something called flying checkpoints where they like, so you can never know when and where you can be stopped and asked for ID.
I see two reasons for harassing civilians like this. The first seems to be to make life in Palestine inbearable until people give up and look for another place to live. I’ve heard a few say that all they really want to do is to get away and have a normal life, even if all their relatives have lived here for all time. The second is to give something to do to the bored Israeli soldiers. It’s all a game of power. ‘I choose where you go and when’. A game of power with fatal outcome.