Qalandia may refer to a refugee camp, a village, an airport, or an illegal Israeli crossing. All lie in the same area on the main road which connects Jerusalem to the West Bank city of Ramallah. I am going to discuss in this article how I and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians feel like crossing the Qalandia Israeli checkpoint at least once daily.

The old Qalandia before turning into a huge beast in 2006

I still remember the time when this checkpoint wasn’t in existence and our journeys between Jerusalem and Ramallah didn’t take over 10 minutes by car, today is a different reality. Qalandia checkpoint was first established back in 2000 as a simple checkpoint; it consisted of fences and some plastic barriers. Israeli soldiers manned the checkpoint 24 hours a day; they were accompanied with either tanks or military jeeps. No one thought this checkpoint was going to be a permanent checkpoint and that it will last long. There was another checkpoint only five minutes after it by car; people thought Qalandia was just extra provocation that will soon be removed.

As the days passed, Qalandia checkpoint faced upgrades; concrete blocks were added and a lane for pedestrians was added too. People started to lose hope that this checkpoint will be removed any time soon; but instead it will become even larger. Soon after, Qalandia was turned into an official checkpoint, more soldiers were manning it, more concrete blocks were added, and fences and metal bars appeared to designate different lanes everywhere for cars and for pedestrians as well.

Qalandia at those times was the place everyone wanted to avoid, but none could. In winter, Qalandia area would be filled with mud, Pedestrians will get out of Qalandia as if they got out of a mud pool. When it rains, water often rises to high levels causing some cars to break down due to lack of underground sewer system and well paved roads. While in summer, Pedestrians had to wait for hours in the heat, cars stuck in the traffic jam would break down and the smell due to left out garbage itself would be extremely irritating, The Jerusalem municipality was responsible of Qalandia area, but they barely ever do their job.  Nevertheless, the Traffic jam at Qalandia was never eased; it was always filled with cars no matter what the time would be.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians had to cross this checkpoint daily to get to their work, to their businesses, to their schools (as is my case). At that time (before 2006), the Israeli Apartheid wall wasn’t fully set in place yet, some people managed to go through different routes to get into Jerusalem and avoid having to go through the hell of Qalandia checkpoint.

The Qalandia you see today might seem different or more comfortable than that which was over 6 years ago, but the humiliation and suffering went nowhere, only increased.

It was all sudden that we went to Qalandia one morning and saw a whole new checkpoint being constructed; it didn’t take long to be completed. The new checkpoint came along with the Apartheid wall which was built and completed in al-Ram and Qalandia area around 2006, it was considered by the Israelis the borders of their state, and beyond that checkpoint lays the occupied West Bank even though the checkpoint was over 10km into West Bank territory.

The daily routine didn’t stop, but now even more people had to pass through Qalandia every morning to get to their work or business since all other paths were blocked by the Israel Apartheid Wall. Qalandia became a central checkpoint, the only gate hundreds of thousands of Palestinians could pass to enter Jerusalem only if they’re carrying Israeli issued permits or Jerusalem ID cards. Of course not to mention over a million other Palestinians now unable to even breathe the air of the holy city of Jerusalem since the Apartheid Wall and Israeli checkpoints laid a complete blockade all around the West Bank.

People are indeed frustrated and extremely annoyed at the reality that they have to pass this checkpoint every day to get to their work or even just visit family members who have been cut off by the wall. It’s unfortunate but we now have to cope with this reality, we have to cope with the idea that it is impossible to be granted freedom of travel around the West Bank and Jerusalem.

But, have you wondered what it is like passing this checkpoint walking? Or even by car? I’ll explain here.

People passing through cages at Qalandia. Photo by Peter Miller

When you are heading towards Jerusalem without a car, using public transportation (you must get off the bus) or walking, you will have to enter a big terminal just as those you see at Airports and real border crossings. First stage in entering this terminal is passing through tiny cattle cages, resized to fit human beings. Those cages are so tiny that people hurt their shoulders while passing them. Often Israeli guards on those cages lock the door to humiliate the pedestrians passing the checkpoint, making their first stage of passage even harder. Afterwards, you arrive at 4 entrances which usually only one or two would be open. After waiting in line, you go through the gate to be checked, you put everything you have through the x-ray scanner and pass through a metal-detecting door. You show your ID or Permit to the Israeli soldier behind the bullet-proof window, scan your hand on a biometric hand reader and they chose whether to let you in or make you return, depends on their mood at that moment. This process usually takes 30 minutes if you’re lucky, over an hour if you’re not.

Palestinian using the Biometric scanner at Qalandia. Photo from AP

Qalandia traffic jam in a late afternoon. Photo by Josh Levinger

It is not better or more comfortable passing Qalandia by car, after you fight your way through a hell of traffic jam before the checkpoint, you wait for as long as the soldier on the gate wishes before he lets you pass to be checked. When passing, the car driver is not allowed to have anyone along with him on the car except his/her family, everyone else has to go down and walk through pedestrian terminal. Often, police dogs are used on this checkpoint as a humiliation tool and to intimidate Palestinians passing. After a provocative checking of every single part of your car, you should be allowed passage.

Even with people tending to cope with this daily routine, no one is ready to accept that this has become a fact in our lives. The placement of this checkpoint plus hundreds of other checkpoints and road blocks spread all around the West Bank is completely illegal under International Law and a direct attack on the Palestinians’ right of freedom of movement.

Today, July 9, 2011, meets the anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling which delegitimized the Wall Israel has built around the West Bank, this tribunal officially called on Israel to take down this wall for it being illegal.

The Court finds that the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated régime are contrary to international law; it states the legal consequences arising from that illegality “The Hague

It has been 7 years since this court ruling was made and we have seen nothing change on the ground. Instead Palestinians are still being strangled even more by those barriers! We hope to be able to wake up one day and witness an end and destruction of all those boundaries and walls separating us and holding us in huge open air prisons. The situation in Palestine is not humane; the way Palestinians are treated is not humane.

Give us our Freedom! Treat us like the humans we are!

Young Palestinian woman passing through Qalandia. Photo by Sarah Rashid

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A brief story of my suffering as a blue ID card holder and resident of the occupied city of Jerusalem.

I am considered under the Israeli law to be an illegal citizen of the Palestinian West Bank and I am supposed to avoid it as an area of danger while Jewish settlers are allowed to come from all over the world and settle legally (under Israeli law) in the Palestinian West Bank.

I am a Palestinian who lives in the occupied eastern part of Jerusalem. I am required to carry around my blue identification card which permits me to cross checkpoints daily from my house in Jerusalem to my school in Ramallah and vice versa. Carrying the blue identification card enables me to travel “freely” across the West Bank and 1948 Palestine while those carrying West Bank and Gaza IDs are not able to leave those areas without special Israeli issued permits. Having said that, however, carrying this blue ID is more of a curse than it is a blessing.

I am not a full citizen of the state of “Israel”, Neither am I a full citizen under the Palestinian authority. I am not even Jordanian, I do not carry any official nationality nor am I allowed to carry any. I carry a semi-Israeli passport and a “temporary” Jordanian issued semi-passport. Living under this circumstance is extremely unbearable.

Arabs living in 1948 Palestine (Israel) do have full Israeli “official” citizenship, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are considered officially Palestinians and do carry official citizenships. Whenever I am asked to fill any kind of a form which asks who I am and where do I live, I fill in nationality as Jordanian and address as Jerusalem, Israel. Unfortunately that is the reality lived by all Palestinian Jerusalem residents who are not citizens of Israel, I’m am not sure how they define us, but it is surely not a citizen of Israel but a temporary citizen waiting to be expelled to some other land soon.

Building permits aren't granted to Palestinians by the Israeli municipality, therefore they destroy their homes. Ethnic Cleansing

We, Jerusalem citizens, are threatened to loose our Jerusalem ID cards if the Israeli authorities find out that we have a house in the Palestinian West Bank. We are not allowed to live in  the West Bank nor it is easy for us to buy or rent a property to live in inside Israel. The laws of the apartheid state of Israel makes it extremely hard to obtain a permit to build a house, or renovate an already existing house anywhere. All around Eastern Jerusalem, residents struggle to obtain building permits to fit those new family members while a Jewish person can easily obtain a permit and build a whole residential compound to fit few family members. All of this is a part of the plan to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem and Palestine of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians alike.

a billboard in Jerusalem advertising a new illegal Jewish settlement

The Zionist government claims settlements are purposed to fit the natural growth and increase in Jewish population, but the increase of Arab population is not met with any extra housing of any type, Arabs are not even allowed to add an extra room to their houses due to apartheid Israeli laws.

On the other hand, carrying the Jerusalem ID does not allow us to obtain any other worldwide nationality! If Israeli apartheid authorities find out that anyone carrying a Jerusalem ID obtained a foreign passport (For example: Canadian or American) his ID is to be taken away and he is to be deported along with having all his property confiscated. What is extremely annoying here, is the racial bias. Anyone who is a Jewish citizen of Israel is permitted to carry as many foreign passports and nationalities along with his Israeli passport. You will find an Israeli Jew who carries an American passport, a German passport, a French passport, and a Belgium passport along with his Israeli passport while an Arab citizen carrying a Jerusalem ID is not able to even carry a Palestinian passport or a full Israeli passport, as if we are non-existent humans.

My father has always told me, our struggle holding this Identification card is a struggle of existence. If we ever thought of giving up this ID card to move live somewhere else, we are giving up our eternal right in the land of Palestine and Jerusalem to be specific. The Jewish Zionist plot is and has always been achieving an ethnically pure Jewish only city of Jerusalem. As I have said in another article, Jerusalem was never meant to be for any specific people, race, or religion. Jerusalem is the holy city that accepts people from all around the globe and from all different religions!

I will not accept being treated as an inferior citizen, I demand equality in living!

Jerusalem is my city, I am an existing human being who demands human rights as any other citizen living in any other country in the world!

The apartheid laws of the Israeli state need to be abolished! This system is slowly turning to be EXTREMELY similar to 1935 Nazi Germany, we don’t want it to turn to 1939 Nazi Germany or further. We exist! We have the right to exist and travel freely in our land without worrying every minute of being expelled for choosing a place of living!

sincerely,

A fed up Palestinian Field Negro

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Artworks made out of Rubber Bullets, Live Bullets, Tear gas canisters, Sound bombs, stun grenades, Toxic gas canisters etc… all used by the Apartheid Israeli regime to crush peaceful protests around Palestine

Pictures taken at Baladna cultural center in Ramallah.

*Please Excuse low picture quality

As the Israeli Zionist war criminal Netanyahu was addressing the US congress last night, a brave young Jewish woman stood up for humanity, disrupted his speech saying ” STOP ISRAELI WAR CRIMES!” lifting a banner which also said “Occupying land is indefensible”. The young woman’s name is Rae Abileah, she was tackled, beaten and then arrested by police agents who were at the scene. Netanyahu carried on his speech in a comedic way saying:

“You know, I take it as a badge of honor, and so should you, that in our free societies you can have protest, You can’t have these protests in the farcical parliaments in Tehran or Tripoli, this is real democracy”

Every single word in that phrase was hypocritical. Not that the rest of his speech wasn’t, everything that comes from a Zionist mouth is either a lie or hypocrisy.

Watch this video about the incident yesterday, it is extremely powerful!

That young lady was moved to a hospital to be treated for neck injuries, she was then arrested by the police at the hospital. This is the democracy Bibi was talking about.

I think he meant with democracy “Be glad we didn’t kill her on site”

Abileah said she was “in great pain” but her ordeal was nothing “compared to the pain and suffering that Palestinians go through on a regular basis.”

“I have been to Gaza and the West Bank, I have seen Palestinians’ homes bombed and bulldozed, I have talked to mothers whose children have been killed during the invasion of Gaza, I have seen the Jewish-only roads leading to ever-expanding settlements in the West Bank. This kind of occupation cannot continue… I feel obligated to rise up and speak out against these crimes being committed in my name and with my tax dollars.” -Abileah

Moving to Israel, what democracy is Netanyahu talking about? Is it the democracy in Israel where apartheid laws are being enacted everyday, some are to prevent people from holding a memorial for a specific event, like Nakba? [Nakba Law] The list of apartheid undemocratic laws goes on, there are dozens of apartheid laws in Israel which completely defy the true definition of a democracy.

What about freedom of speech? Netanyahu said that his free society allows freedom of speech. Palestinians, Israelis, foreigners in the West Bank, Gaza and 1948 Palestine march all the time against Israeli occupation and apartheid. Those protestors are peaceful protesters expressing their opinions, they are met with barrages of Tear Gas/Toxic Gas grenades, Rubber Bullets, Live Bullets, and sometimes tank shells. We can see that in the weekly peaceful demonstrations which take place in Bil’in, Ni’lin, Ma’sara, Silwan, Nabi Saleh, Shekh Jarrah, Bet Hanoun crossing, Qalandia and etc…

Netanyahu says his free society allows freedom of speech, What about Bassem Abu Rahmeh who was shot dead with a high velocity tear gas canister to his chest in Bil’in? He was standing behind a fence, standing still and shouting against occupation. You can see the full assasination of Bassem Abu Rahmeh in Bil’in in the following video

Another example, the American citizen Rachel Corrie who was run over by an Israeli Occupation Bulldozer near Rafah because she refused to see Palestinians’ homes being demolished for no reason. The list of those massacred by Israel for peacefully protesting Israeli occupation is huge.

What democracy when millions of citizens under Israeli Occupation are not able to vote to determine their futures? What democracy when anyone criticizing Israeli policies against Palestinians is labeled as an Anti-Semit? What Democracy when Israelis are able to claim land as theirs in East Jerusalem and the West Bank when Palestinians everywhere including diaspora, are not able to claim the house that was their’s months or years ago.

Netanyahu and all zionist scums alike are absolutely no one to be lecturing others about freedom and democracy. Israel is a terrorist state, it is an apartheid state, I consider Israel to be one of the least democratic state in the world similar to North Korea and Saudi Arabia for the atrocities it has committed in Palestine and the whole world alike.

The Speech by Netanyahu is a call for war, a war we don’t want to fight. Netanyahu is the enemy of peace, he is not willing to accept any compromise to grant Palestinian Arabs dignity and freedom. He came, he terrorized, and he is going to fall.

Regards,

a Palestinian Field Negro

The reason I am writing this is because I have been seeing, in the past few years, increased amount of Israelis who come to share the struggle with the Palestinians who face Israeli occupation every day. I want to ask them, how do they define “Coexistence”?

Time has passed quickly, decades have passed since the Two-State Solution has been put on the table. Palestinians have wasted their time negotiating, given up a lot of what was once their right, and have lost far more than they have gained in negotiations with the Israeli Apartheid State past decades. Having said this, I don’t believe any kind of a two state solution is even realistic to think about, two state solution simply means a Jewish-only state, with a Palestinian semi-state next to it filled with Illegal settlements and a wall which basically takes away all natural resources and strategic lands from the Palestinians, not to mention there is no Eastern Jerusalem to be governed by Palestinians.

With even more recent developments, Netanyahu, the Israeli PM refused to even consider going back to 1967 borders. That is nothing new, but it is all becoming official that Israel does not want to see a Palestinian state.

I was never pro-Two State Solution, since that, as for those who yearn for it , rejects the Right of Return for Palestinians. It reject the Palestinians right to claim back their stolen property, to come live in their hometowns in Yaffa, Haifa, Safad, Tiberius and others. Some Israelis and Palestinians are seeking a two-state solution. As a Palestinian, I consider a two state solution to be a dream far from reality. There is no way (current) Israel will give back East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, the wall and settlements all across the West Bank have already designated the borders of the Palestinian state, even the West Bank is barely under Palestinian control.

I often criticize few Israelis who come to the West Bank to support Palestinians struggling in the fight for their state, a state which will co-exist along with Israel, an unarmed poor state of Palestine aside with the nuclear-armed mass-destruction power, Israel.  Those who seek the two state solution have forgotten who owned the house they live in, who owned the property their Mall is built on, who owned the land of Palestine which is today referred to as Israel.

Historic Palestine is a land that welcomes all faiths, all people. Israel seeks to become a Jewish-only State; even Barrack Obama started referring to Israel as a Jewish state in his last MEspeech. A Jewish state will set its agenda to expel those few 1948 Arabs from their homes to refugee camps in a tiny Palestinian State, or neighboring countries.

I refuse Zionism; I refuse to even discuss this struggle with a Zionist. Zionism is another word which describes the complete ethnic cleansing of Arabs from the land between the River and the Sea, and replaces them with Jews from all over the world that don’t even belong to this land.

We have lost our lands in 1948, we have lost more lands in 1967, and we are losing whatever is left of Palestine today. The only way to not lose it all, is to not give up anymore. I will accept to live in a one state joining Jews and Arabs, equal rights and of course, the Right of Return must be applied.

I respect every Israeli who is ready to have me or any Arab alike, to be his neighbor in an apartment in Tel-Aviv. I am ready to respect every Israeli who feels we are all equal and we all deserve the same equal rights of living. 1948 Arabs today are living in ghettos around Haifa, Yaffa, Jerusalem and others due to the extremely racist apartheid Israeli laws and regulations which consider Arabs as inferiors in the state of Israel. This is not acceptable.

I am extremely inspired by the South African experience which succeeded using non-violence, to gain equal rights for all citizens whatever their race or ethnicity was. As their Apartheid system has fallen,  the Israeli Apartheid System can and will fall, hopefully democracy will prevail, the people will speak, and their voice will be heard.

We are not different, no one deserves to be treated different than any other person because of his religion or ethnic origin. We are all Semites after all; we can and should live together, not separated by walls or borders.

I ask you, how do you define “Coexistence”? Do you accept me as your neighbor? Are we different?

Please take time to read and sign this [Action for a One-State initiative]

If you want to take part in the campaign against the Apartheid State of Israel and the Zionist regime, join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

Photo from the Atlantic of an Israeli and Palestinian suffering from Tear Gas in Qalandia 15 May 2011

Best,

A Palestinian Field Negro

Hassan is currently a Syrian Citizen, he was able to reach Yaffa in a bus after entering Palestine from the borders between Syria and the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.

Hassan roamed Yaffa, he says he is originally from  al-Nozha neighborhood in Yaffa and he is not a terrorist, only a Palestinian who has returned home to live in peace.

In the Video Israeli Police are taking him into custody, it is unknown whether he will be arrested or deported back to Syria. One Israeli Policeman tells him “You are not from here, you don’t live here and you will go back”

Hassan, in an interview with channel 2 TV said “I do not admit anything as the “State of Israel”, even the Jewish people have fell to that lie”

This is heroism, The people of Palestine will Return.