Israeli MK Gets a Taste of Palestinian Humiliation at Qalandiyah Checkpoint

Yesh Atid MK posts on Facebook about the female soldier who bullied her, and about her Palestinian friend who is desperately trying to keep his children from getting into altercations with soldiers.

On her way back from a personal visit to Ramallah on Sunday, MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) encountered what she described as 'humiliating conditions' at the Qalandiyah checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem. She then proceeded to tell her Facebook followers about the experience in a post that quickly went viral.

Kol wrote on her Facebook page that she was bullied at the checkpoint, despite being an MK, and she criticized the city of Jerusalem for not providing municipal services to the Palestinian neighborhood under its jurisdiction.

"Even if I were to upload a photo of the freezing, filthy enclosure at the Qalandiyah checkpoint that I passed through yesterday on my way back from Ramallah, you wouldn't be able to see, and certainly wouldn't be able to feel, the humiliation and insult that I felt – and that the Palestinians with permits, who are forced to pass here day after day, feel," she wrote.

"You also wouldn't be able to hear the voice of the female soldier who barked at us ('Member of Knesset? What Knesset exactly?') through the opaque glass and demanded that we go back and forth again and again for no reason.

"And there is not any picture or any film that could explain the overwhelming irrationality that has led to the situation in which the Qalandiyah neighborhood, which is part of the Jerusalem municipality and whose citizens pay council tax, doesn't receive basic services from Israel, since it is beyond the checkpoint – but also doesn’t receive services from the Palestinian Authority since the area isn’t their responsibility. The neighborhood is a no-man's land."

In her Facebook post, Kol also told the story of her friend from Ramallah, a businessman called Amjad, who discovered his 12-year-old children were throwing stones at IDF soldiers.

"Last week the two boys returned home and told him they heard 'that thing that soldiers use' (a two-way radio) during a football game in the neighborhood. They decided to follow the voice with some other friends from the neighborhood, until they 'found' the soldiers, and then they all threw stones at them."

"Amjad was extremely angry and immediately forbade his children to throw stones or have contact with soldiers," Kol wrote. "When they told him that all their friends do it, he decided to ban them from playing outside. Since then he hasn't been sleeping at night. He knows that 12-year-olds don’t really listen to their parents, and that they're under a lot of pressure in the neighborhood. He also knows that he can't watch over them at home forever, and how easily a children's game can become a violent encounter between imbalanced forces that ends in a bloodbath."

"And he is scared," wrote Kol, who has helped advance bills in the fields of children's rights, violence against children, health and education. "I am scared. I am scared that we will continue living like this. And that fear scares me." 

Tomer Appelbaum
Tess Scheflan