What does it mean to live under military occupation? – Part II

This account, by a Norwegian woman living and working at the moment in Nablus, was published today on Electronic Intifada:

“Recalling the first time I passed through Huwwara checkpoint, I remember that my physical and psychological reaction revealed fear. As I and two colleagues moved slowly forward in the line of other women, children and elderly, the unbalanced and disturbing power relationship between us in the line and the soldiers was mercilessly perceptible. The young men and women, dressed in olive green uniforms, wearing helmets and carrying weapons, have the authority to deny anyone to pass. The people who live here in the West Bank have green permit cards that are checked by the soldiers. remember that my heartbeat increased and I felt that I had done something wrong that was about to be exposed. One minute I felt cold, the next warm. I felt like shouting to the soldiers, ‘Can’t you see what you are doing here?’ but instead took some deep breaths while trying not to look at the people around me. I pretended that I could not feel the little boy squeezed between me and the elderly lady next to me. I smiled at the grimace my colleague made as she struggled not to be pushed off-balance by the woman. This was just a normal day. We were just going for a weekend trip to Ramallah, a trip which should take only about 40 minutes if there were no checkpoints. The sun was shining, everyone seemed to know what to do. I remember thinking, ‘what am I afraid of?’ Now as I go though checkpoints, the initial fear I felt the first time has been transformed into a sense of injustice and frustration …
It is the constant reminder that every aspect of people’s lives here is affected by the occupation. My Palestinian friends who have lived their whole lives in this context tell me that one of the worst things of existing under such conditions is that after a while it becomes normal. One comes to expect everything. One has to endure everything. One has to remain hopeful that life will become easier one day. But when I ask how they understand the situation, they tell me that it is just getting worse; although they want to remain hopeful for future improvements, reality has shown them too many times that hope can be deceiving. Imagine yourself living in conditions of constant oppression, discrimination and insecurity I tell my friends back home, and I know they cannot. I cannot even imagine it myself. My little red passport, always kept in my pocket, feels somehow like a protective shield”.

This account can be read in full on the Electronic Intifada website here

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