Line at Kalandia checkpoint
Photo: Amit Shabai
Photo: AFP
Palestinians wait their turn at Kalandia checkpoint
Photo: AFP

Highway to hell

Despite optimistic name, Palestinian-only road a nightmare

Bir Naballah is a cage. It may be called “The Bir Naballah enclave” in the "occupier’s" politically correct language, but this cannot change the facts. It is a cage. Perhaps a compound. Another atrocity that emerged from the winding route of the separation fence.


In the past, the village was practically a Jerusalem suburb, as were three other neighboring villages. Today they are surrounded by bars and fences and concrete walls, with only one gate connecting them to the outer world.


This route passes through a tunnel under highway 45 and leads to Ramallah. Not to Jerusalem, the center of the villagers’ lives until the compound was set up, but just to Ramallah.


From there and only there are they permitted to try their luck at the Kalandia checkpoint in an effort to reach Jerusalem.


The "prisoners" are naturally not permitted to use Highway 45 to travel wherever they like. This highway is prohibited for use by Palestinians. Only the "ruling power" is allowed to drive on it, not those being ruled. They can only crawl beneath it.


In the occupier’s polished language, the only gateway out of the compound bears the festive name of "Fabric of Life".


Residents of the compound petitioned the High Court of Justice against their incarceration. The Court, headed by retired Chief Justice Barak, listened to them patiently and then ruled:


Indeed had the "Fabric of Life" road not been built, we believe that the fate of the fence in the Bir Naballah area would have been similar to the fate of the fence in the Alfei Menashe enclave (where the High Court changed the route of the fence that enclosed Palestinian villages.)


Yet due to the "Fabric of Life" road, the situation before us is different…the link between the villages and the Ramallah area has been maintained by means of the Bir Naballah-Kalandia road. This road is open to traffic and it enables free, uninterrupted movement by residents of the area to the Ramallah area, or via the Kalandia crossing - to Jerusalem. (The High Court of Justice 4289/05)


Following is a routine experience at the "Fabric of Life" road on the way out of the Bir Naballah compound.


Detained for questioning

Wednesday May 2, 2007, it is five in the afternoon. As usual a checkpoint has been set up on the "Fabric of Life" road. A long row of cars are lined up. There's a long line beyond the checkpoint as well.


This is the unique military interpretation of the judge's words on "free and uninterrupted movement." And as is customary on the "Fabric of Life" road, people are also "detained for questioning". It’s a type of local punishment, the fate of Palestinians who soldiers take a disliking to.


One of those "detained for questioning" is a taxi driver who was found to be carrying a screwdriver. Would it occur to anyone that an innocent taxi driver would possess a screwdriver? Thus, the poor little screwdriver was marked a "dangerous weapon", and its owner detained. He has been detained for almost two hours.


Meanwhile the lines are growing longer, the usual chaos is evident, cars and people are passing by slowly, enjoying the fine "Fabric of Life".


The taxi driver pulls out a few sunflower seeds and throws the shells on the road.


What nerve! Only an Arab could be such an animal. Has anyone ever seen a Jew spit out sunflower seed shells in public? A soldier obsessed with cleanliness notices the abomination and quickly takes action.


In an angry and educational tone of voice, he instructs the taxi diver to pick up the shells. The checkpoint is surrounded by piles of the military's trash, but the fate of Israeli trash is not the fate of Palestinian trash.


One of those present makes a comment to a soldier, and the answer he received was, "Ok, soon we'll round up some more Arabs to clean up.”


The taxi driver begins to sweep the road under the IDF's strict eye.


One has to be made of steel not to be swept up in past memories. Not a single soldier is outraged by the sight in front of them. Only at 7 p.m., almost three hours after being detained because of a screwdriver, the driver is released.


And this happens day after day, week after week, year after year. This is the "Fabric of Life" road, in whose name the honorable Justice Barak permits the incarceration of the residents of Bir Naballah in a compound.


Would it be going overboard to propose that the justices at the High Court of Justice get off their seats and pay a visit to the "Fabric of Life" road to see for themselves what their verdicts are worth?


פרסום ראשון: 05.09.07, 15:18
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