A week or so ago, my family and I went to Jerusalem. In order to pass into Jerusalem you have to pass a check point controlled by isreal. Yesterday was the last Friday of Ramadan so the isreali government allowed some Palestinians to enter Jerusalem in order to pray at the large and sacred mosque located in the city. We crossed at the checkpoint called qalandia which is the only one Palestinians are allowed to cross oat. We probably waited an hour to an hour an a half, along with hundredss of Palestinians to be funneled into these cage like enclosures which were filled with cameras and observed by Isreali soilders through small windows. Two by two the people walked through the these metal turn-stile things. People would rush and push through as many people as possible once the Isreali soldiers unlocked it for 30 seconds to a minuet. We eventually got throug and were met with another set of metal turnstiles that let to a sealed off room with a metal detectors and x-ray machine. There were several cubbies/sections that one could pass through on this section. Again we had to wait for the Isreali shoulders to unlock the turn-style to pass.
This is where things got interesting. The Isreali soldiers were only letting select people in and so they wouldn't unlock it if a person they did not want to let in was standing in front of it. Soon, many people were standing and waiting so they deployed soldiers to come check documents and control who was standing in line. This soon because violent. The Isreali soldiers began dragging people out by the back of their necks and forcing people to leave the waiting area. They only were allowing select women with children and men who were over 50. The chamber next to us filled with yelling and something happened out of sight but before we knew it, people were running and covering their faces with their shirts. The Isreali soldiers tear gassed the Palestinians waiting in that cubical. From what a boy standing next to me said was that there was an argument but I am unsure who it was between. There were many kids waitng to cross and it effected them the worst. There was this baby right next to me that started crying before any of us had started to feel the effects. It was so sad to see the baby cry.
The soliders tear gassed again in a different section. Most of the soilders rushed over to the large gate where people crossed back into Palestine(well technically its all Palestine) and where they were dragging the people out. I am not sure what happened next but I heard a gun shot, I am not sure if it was a rubber buttlet or they shot more tear gas or if it was a real bullet or possiby they were just beating someone with their combat sticks. It was unclear what was happening but one of the Palestinians we were standing ith said that someone got shot. We helped a few Palestinians cross into Jeruslemun by seperating ourslef so there were people in between my mom and her boyfriend and my sister and I so they had to unlock the gate long enough that all the people infront of us had to go through before us. We got through to the otherside and all I could think about is that is a normal thing that these people have to go through now. My anxiety levels were high and when you were standing in the check point you could see everyone slighty shaking because there was just so much anxiety and stress in the whole situation. I lived it for two-three hours. It gave me the tinest taste of the toll occupation must take on one's health and soul, let alone for 70 years. Epigenetics.
Walking around in Jerusluem was very interesting to the least. I felt most safe in the muslim quarter and the old city. There were pockets if isreali soilders standing behind gates. I am unsure why they were there, there were no isreali's to "protect". We did see one jewish person run through the old city to get the wailing wall, and by run, I really mean that he ran as if he was scared for his life (which I am sure that is what he thought he was doing). Yet, no one paid attention to him. I don't even think people noticed or if they did, they did not care. This was the soliders excuse to be in the Muslim quarter. I walked into the Isreali side of Jeruselum and it was so eerie. It was as if someone had painted this place with a facade of peace and everything was too quiet. Overall, the day was a long and full of experiences I am glad that I had. On our way back to the bus station, the fast had been broken and so there were some bus drivers sitting by their busses and passing out watermellon to people who passed by. They insited we take some so we ate and slice and chatted with them for a little bit. The difference of feeling and vibe you get from the two cultures speaks to the situation and the type of people that make up both.