An Abnormal Usual Procedure Disturbing an Abnormal Usual Crossing

It always amazed me our people’s ability to quickly cope with unpleasant surprises ruining their anyhow unpleasant daily routine on checkpoints. Yesterday on my way back to Nablus from Ramallah, the “easy” trip (this time) ended with over half an hour waiting few meters away from Huwarra checkpoint. Driver asked us to leave the car while he apparently went back to find himself more passengers, when we asked him what’s happening he replied with carelessness: as you can see, checkpoint is closed.

Being a new employee in Ramallah, my relevantly small experience with checkpoints-closures made me look for familiar faces to ask what’s happening exactly and what can a helpless citizens like myself do in similar situations? I saw a colleague of mine nearby, he informed me that Zionist soldiers were bombing some car they found suspicious, and while that is done, life at Huwarra; the major checkpoint on the entrance of Nablus, freezes. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a hurry or if you’re fighting sickness in an ambulance, everyone has to either patiently wait, or listen to drivers who started advising people to get a taxi to Beitiba checkpoint with 15 shekels ONLY (same amount you pay from Ramallah to Huwarra). Beitiba checkpoint is on the other end of Nablus and to get there through alternative roads means more or less the time you need to go back where you came from, Ramallah in my case. Situation felt precisely like I was on the door but not stepping in.

I wasn’t sure when this whole operation started or when Zionist soldiers plan to finish it, there was maybe near to hundred people more or less, so it has been some time that’s for sure, I felt worried to hear drivers saying that similar procedures can take three to four hours !!! After some thinking I realized that I could not take their expectations for real especially when they were eager to “hunt” passengers to Beitiba.  I was still struggling with that thought when I noticed dozens of other taxi drivers on a nearby hill calling “Ramallah, Bethlehem, Khalil, …” just like they normally do when Huwarra is functioning .. the scene made me smile, I didn’t even notice when they mobilized to that new location, wasn’t sure whether it was that they’re used to coping with similar situations or that they became professionals in going around Israeli security procedures which often have nothing to do with security but more with disturbing the unfortunate Palestinians…

The other “interesting” scene was people who were also waiting like I was, people were waiting not complaining but rather curious to figure out what was happening meters away from where they were standing, I had the feeling that people are willing to continue waiting patiently one or two hours more without complaining or protesting the abnormal usual procedure… this time the thought was interrupted by the crowds that started marching towards the checkpoint after soldiers waived to let them know that the “procedure” is over -or almost so- in a panorama that looked like a forced “cooperation” between the occupied and the occupier. People marched to continue their usual crossing of an establishment that was normalized into their daily routine without their approval, while on the other side of Huwarra taxi drivers were as usual (also) fighting over passengers…


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