Palestine: al-Khalil: Mornings at the Checkpoint

by Inger Styrbjorn

Palestine - search school bags“Biladi, Biladi...” (my country, my country…) – the Palestinian national anthem echoes from loudspeakers all over al-Khalil (Hebron) as children make their way to school every morning.

We CPTers stand at the checkpoint and note how many of these school children have their bags searched.  As I count the children, I notice that today the Israeli soldier stays inside the trailer where the metal detector is, probably so we cannot see how he treats the Palestinians.

The metal detector beeps for every person who passes.  It beeps several times but no one comes out, which means that people inside are undergoing a thorough search.

A young boy waiting for his schoolmate tries to see what’s happening but the soldier pulls the door shut.  When the door eventually opens, a small child comes out with his backpack, belt, and cell phone in hand.

A young girl, maybe seven years old, tries to take a shortcut past the trailer but the soldier hastily comes out and sends her back.  When she comes out of the trailer, she stops, closes the zippers of her searched bag and hurries off to school.

I never get used to these mornings at the checkpoint.  It turns my stomach to see the behavior of these young soldiers – the intimidation and harassment with their big weapons.  I wonder what goes on in their heads.

What must the Palestinian children feel when they see their parents, teachers or siblings humiliated in front of everyone? 

On our way back to the CPT apartment, two Israeli soldiers rush into the street and point their guns at us – a training exercise interrupted.   If only they knew that we go straight home to pray for them.