I got an e-mail from Daphne today. She writes: “I wrote something after my last shift with Yifat at ‘Azzun ‘Atma. Please read it and see if there’s any way to publish it in your blog. I really want to bring the condition of the people of ‘Azzun ‘Atma to people’s attention, but I don’t think the media will be interested, Daphne.”
Picture yourselves coming one day back home from the supermarket with your groceries, and at the entrance of your building a policeman asks you to see what you have. “Pitas?” he says while counting them, “you’re only allowed 5.” “But we’re 4 people at home, 5 pitas won’t be enough.” But he pulls out the bag 5 pitas and puts them aside. “Sorry, only 5.” From another bag he takes out potatoes, measures the bag with his eyes and takes out half, pulls out a few tomatoes from another bag, and 6 eggs from the box: “you’re only allowed 6.” You watch stunned – is someone actually going to tell you how many eggs to eat? How many tomatoes to put in your salad? Yes!! Well, perhaps not to you personally, but if you were a Palestinian, this situation would not be unthinkable.
‘Azzun ‘Atma is a village locked within the separation wall between the settlements, Oranit, Elkana and Sha’arei Tikva. In order to leave these settlements within the Israeli area, this village is locked by the wall from all its sides. A prison within a prison, that’s the right word for it, and not the “clean” term used for it: Green Line Seam Exclave.
On the northern side, leading to the West Bank, the checkpoint is manned by the army. A hard checkpoint. Lots of soldiers, male and female, a room for metal detectors, a guardhouse and the carousels. Everyone, including pregnant women and infants, has to go through the metal detector room. On the southern side, leading towards the settlement road 505, a new checkpoint is being constructed these days.
Both checkpoints close down at 9pm. An entire village, a few thousand people, children, elderly, women about to give birth, people with heart condition – all are well-locked behind walls, fences, barbed wire, armed soldiers and guard-posts. Not terrorists, unarmed. Farmers (‘Azzun ‘Atma had free passage to Israel for over two years and did not produce a single attempt for a terrorist attack). Like Qalqilya, and like many other villages that the Separation Wall has separated between them and the most fundamental right there is – the right to freedom. And as if all that is not enough, ten households of the village are on the other side of road 505, on the other side of the wall.
But, every exception is supplied with its proper oppression. Each resident of those ten households is examined on its way home, including its belongings and anything purchased in the village. The army has allocated rations that a person is allowed to bring home. 10 pitas, a kilo of potatoes, etc. Even if it’s a person with 9 children, a grandfather and grandchildren. Even if it’s a person with a household of 20 people. Maybe if he goes to Qalqilya at the office of the DCO (District Coordination Office), stands in line for a whole day, he will get a special permit for some extra rations. But in the name of all the people, of members of my family, who are haunted to this day by the shadows of days behind barbed wire and armed soldiers, I want to ask: what has become of us?