Friday, April 18, 2008

Three blind women at a checkpoint

I read this story on Window into Palestine. It's so sad the way normal human compassion is dying a painful death on both sides.

Three blind women at a checkpoint, notes by
Rana Qumsiyeh, April 13, 2008
[While reading this remember that a) all here are
the lucky 0.1% of the population of Bethlehem who
have a "permit" to get to Jerusalem and b) that this
is the mild forms, many died at checkpoints while
refused to get to medical facilities and many are starving
because their lands and jobs are on the other side of the
Apartheid wall. Mazin Q]

Yesterday was not the first time I see those three blind
women at the checkpoint. They are familiar to many who
cross the Bethlehem checkpoint on daily basis to get to
Jerusalem. Two middle-aged Palestinian women and
one elderly woman who seems to be a foreigner; could
be German, as I have heard them talk to each other
in German at times. I have always wondered how they
manage to make their way through this maze, being
blind, when most people with perfect eye sight struggle
to find their way through, when crossing this checkpoint
for the first time, and have to ask for directions.

So, yesterday, despite that it was a Saturday, there was a
long line forming when those three blind women walked
in, and it was taking too long for the door to open and let
people in one by one. As usual, they were let through
ahead of everyone because of their situation. A few
minutes later, they got inside and it seems two of them got
through the metal-detector door and the third one “beeped”.
The female soldier on duty screamed at her in Hebrew to
take her shoes off. This female soldier is known to all of us,
the crowds who go through everyday, we call her the
screamer. We know she is on duty before we even get
into the terminal, because her yelling reaches outside the
Wall! Of course, standing in line outside, we barely can see
anything of what is happening inside, we just hear and try
to understand what is going on. Thus, we assumed that the
blind woman took off her shoes and passed again and she
still “beeped”, the soldier screamed again, now louder, in
Hebrew, ordering her to take her jacket off. One more time,
we hear beeping, then we hear crying. Apparently, the blind
woman started to cry at that point. The soldier screamed
louder, and this time, I didn’t understand what she was
saying.

Half an hour had passed since I got in line and I was still there,
and the line was not moving. People started complaining,
calling, so a male soldier’s voice came through the loud speaker
saying “You have to wait, we have ‘problems’ inside”. We heard
more beeping and then a loud laugh from the “screamer”.

Eventually, they opened the door and I got to the ID and
permit inspection point, there were the two other blind
women, apparently still waiting for their companion, who
had been forced into one of the “further investigation”
rooms. I went outside and got on the bus, and soon after
the three women followed. The third one was very stressed
out and in tears. It turns out; her skirt zipper was the
problem. I am not sure if she was forced to take her skirt
off in that closed 'cell', no one dared ask. As the bus drove
off, I watched her cry all the way from the checkpoint to
Jerusalem…
Now I need to pray and look at pictures of flowers again. I have had as much news as I can take.

3 comments:

Susie of Arabia said...

I just cannot even begin to imagine living like this, being treated like this. It makes my heart hurt, deeply.

Amina said...

very sad story...i bet she's not the first one

Stranger in this Dunya said...

Assalaamu alaikum,
Horrible but yes, you do hear about this kind of thing too often. :( Umm Ibrahim