Saturday, April 23, 2005
"3 Checkpoints and around 26 Soldiers"
posted by: peacerider at 7:08 PM

He hits the wing mirror causing it to buckle inwards. He tears the permit from the drivers hand, scrunches it up and throws it on the floor. The green plastic wallet retaliates and resumes its original shape before landing on the tarmac. He shouts in Hebrew to unresponsive ears. He motions to the queue of taxis and cars behind us and then kicks the driver's door. The other solider leans into the passenger's window. He continues the shouting. They hit the taxi again as we drive on. The one way conversation went something like this:

" Can I please see your id?"
(The permit is handed out of the window)
"What are you doing to us? You are causing a big mess"
"Go back round!"

We were traveling from Qalandia checkpoint back to Beit Sahour. A journey of 2 hours and 40 minutes, about 25km or alternatively as measured by another passenger of "3 check points and around 26 soldiers". We have approached a flying checkpoint; a temporary checkpoint used by soldiers to harass Palestinians. I use this tone because only cars with Palestinians license plates are stopped. And often permits are collected and returned later with no 'checks' ever ran through.

At this particular flying check point, our taxi driver had pushed in front of the other cars. This was his punishment; returning to the back of the line. Unlike the soldiers, our driver remained calm. He said no words. Although he spoke little Hebrew he didn’t even try to resist or to defend himself and his taxi or their permit. He drove on a little and then turned the taxi around, drove back, turned around and joined the back of the ever increasing queue.

Now we are sitting here waiting. Two babies, two mothers and a small child. One Hebrew speaker and one suspicious father who has been repeatedly asked for his id since we left Qalandia checkpoint more than one hour ago - or rather less than 10km ago. We are waiting and watching as the Israeli license plates drive by; flowing through the right hand side lane. The yellow taxis with their Palestinian plates are piling up in front of and behind us. The line moves forward a little and there is a rush as those who have climbed out of their respective cars for some relief from the stifling 'waiting' air quickly climb back in. More engines start. The queue stops again. We wait. No one says a word. The taxi driver leans out of the window and pushes the wing mirror back out to its original position. We wait some more.

As time passes we approach the front of the queue. Another taxi driver dodges between the waiting cars. He is holding a selection of discarded permits, waving them in the air, for his colleagues and cohorts to reclaim. He quickly returns the permits to their 'owners'. It seems we weren't the only ones who were 'punished' for moving too quickly towards the flying checkpoint. Our driver signals to him and his reclaims the piece of stubborn plastic. We are waved through. Past the soldiers and their boots which like to kick car doors.

One baby starts to scream. The other baby is silent. The other baby screams louder. The other baby remains silent.

Posted by Peacerider
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