The Check Point

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West Bank, Palestine
The Check Point
October 25, 2010

Bethlehem to Jerusalem: 6 miles. It took us 1.5 hours.

We left the West Bank and it’s not a very fun experience. We had to take a taxi (along the segregation wall) to a check point, walk through a 50- to 60-yard uphill ramp, as if being herded like cattle, with a metal railing dividing the ‘arriving’ and the ‘departing’. And finally we arrived to the actual check point. A 19-20 year old Israeli military woman sitting alone in a metal shack, checked our American passports. Suddenly, for some reason, we were ‘in question’, so we had to wait…and wait…people were lining up behind us, also waiting, for us. She asked us questions, more people lined up behind us…She spoke to someone on a walky-talky. We all waited.

There are some people from Bethlehem who have passes and can go to the other side of the segregation wall. There are others who don’t and can’t have passes. Just normal everyday people, like you and me. They can’t leave! They can’t leave! Can you imagine? I just can’t get over how oppressive that is. They can’t leave their own village to the other side of the wall. A wall that was put up just a few years back, a wall of segregation, a wall that has separated families who can’t go back and forth to see each other. A wall built on cultivated Palestinian land, now rendered useless.

So, we waited and finally, after standing there, the girl gave us our passports. We had to walk across the street and again, walk through a ramp, this time a winding ramp. The 2 young military men were laughing, and joking over a loud speaker, as we gave them our passports. They started to sing the (American) national anthem. They were calling to and provoking the old Arab man in front of us. Over the loudspeaker, and echoing through the hall… So incredibly rude and although not the most humiliating thing they do, still, quite humiliating!

Again, we walked through a long winding hallway, not knowing where to go, it was quite confusing until we asked one man from Bethlehem. He pointed us in the ‘right’ direction, towards the x-ray machine, which we put our things through. We walked some more and again had to give our passports to 2 young military men. Again, they questioned us. So, many questions. Finally, they stopped asking questions, but just sat there with our passports and chatted with each other, not giving our passports back, to provoke us. After 5 to 10 minutes, they gave us our passports. We left the check point and got on a bus to Jerusalem. We arrived 1.5 hours after we left. It is 6 miles away!

Compared to many, our experience was quite easy. I can’t imagine the continued humiliation and oppression the residents of Bethlehem have to endure on a daily basis.

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