My neighbors are being immured

It’s Thursday evening. I arrived home about 7:00 pm (two hours ago) to find a huge construction machine (LIEBHERR, as it happens, and not CATERPILLAR) and a military deployment, just up the street. Right now, they are working right near my house to close the gap in The Wall in Dahiet al-Bariid that has been left open for the last year.

The military arrived with arms between 3:00 and 4:00 pm this afternoon, the neighbors say, and there are jeeps blocking the road on both sides of what has been for over a year one of the few gaps in The Wall between what is Jerusalem and what is the West Bank (as unilaterally decided by the Israeli military).

But, after five hours, the atmosphere is more like a street carnival now, with kids running around everywhere, and the military is almost (but not quite) giving out chocolates…

At an earlier moment, when things were getting slightly tense, one of the armed Palestinian security guards pushed back a group of people, shouting in Arabic: “Go home and watch Bab al-Hara“! (Bab al-Hara is a television series that everybody watches in Ramadan about life in pre-Independence Syria, with sets that idealize beautiful old Syrian homes…)

The engineer for this closure project, who said he only speaks Russian and Hebrew (+ a few words of English), said the closure will be completed tonight.

He asked for translation help from one of the Palestinian guards/workers who has been here for a couple of weeks (see my previous post about the gap being blocked while the street along The Wall on the Jerusalem side was being paved). That Palestinian worker said his brother has gone to demonstrations in Bil’in against The Wall every Friday for the last for years, despite their mother’s pleas.

So, finally, my neighbors in Dahiet al-Bariid on the other side of The Wall are being immured, and it looks like all of us — even those of us who are on the Jerusalem side of Dahiet al-Bariid, will be living from now on in an open air prison, with guard towers for armed military watchers to keep their eyes on us from both ends of our street…

UPDATE: At about 9:20 this evening, after the evening prayers in the new mosque across the street from my house, a family of perhaps 6 approached the closure in The Wall. There were four girls in their prayer costume (wearing a poncho-like document that completely exposes their faces) and one guy (their father) in a long dark beige gown and rubber thongs (with white socks!) — they must have seen the work that was going on at The Wall. What was anybody thinking about when they went through? After a lot of threats, and waving of weapons (by one of the Border Policemen in particular), the family were finally allowed to cross through on foot to go home, while the work continued. What was anybody thinking about?

LATEST UPDATE: It’s just after 12:30 am, and the big machines, security escort, Palestinian work crew (including one from Nablus!), and Border Police jeep have just all driven off, up the hill, along The Wall, to Neve Yacov, where (the neighbors say) The Wall was “torn down” — but just to bring in all this heavy equipment and the huge pre-molded concrete cylinders that form the high concrete watch tower, and the two pre-molded slabs that seal off all space on either side.

There is just one ray of light coming through from the street lamps on what has definitively become the West Bank side of Dahiet al-Bariid. The remaining gap is big enough maybe for a cat, or a rat — but not for a human being.

(The street lamps on the part of Dahiet al-Bariid where I live, which has now become de facto part of Jerusalem, were knocked out by the big machines which came to lift the huge concrete pieces into place — so the ray of light coming from the West Bank is almost the only light, now that everyone has gone.)

The Palestinian workmen quietly told the neighbors that the gate down below, on what used to be the main street between Jerusalem and Ramallah, will now be open only from 6-8 am, and from 12-2 pm, for the passage of school children who study on one side, but live on the other side, of The Wall — and for certain as-yet-unspecified “special cases”.

The checkpoint, according to these sources, will be moved — supposedly on this coming Sunday — to the gate.

The terrible and powerful choreography of all this was simply overwhelming.

This Wall was erected against all the people on the other side, and everything has now changed, in ways that we do not yet fully comprehend.

And, have I mentioned that Qalandia “border crossing” is now closed to all private vehicles for the first Friday in Ramadan from 1:00 am until 9:00 pm, to keep Palestinians from thronging to get to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for prayers????

One thought on “My neighbors are being immured”

  1. You Know its Ramadan when:

    Many people are lining behind the checkpoint thinking that they can mke it to the Aqsa Mosque, because they were told they can but the checkpoint will have some busy staff who cannot handle the pressure of people hence they will not make it and jam the checkpoint.(period)

    Also, you know its Ramadan when the Soldies blast the old city of Jerusalem for Just in Case events on Friday.
    Painfully, the Aqsa should be only for prayers and peace of mind, but you get people who like to show their talents infront of the many people who suffered big time in order to make it that day, by playing with firecrackers and stunts.

    May god make it a peacefull Jerusalem.

    Poor people inside the camps everywhere, including historical Auschwitz.

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