I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever been more thankful for the things I have than I was this year. I was asked for my passport 4 times and had to pass 8 checkpoints within the last 24 hours. On one of these occasions, I was told my visa was 10 days over. I told him it was impossible because it was three months long and I didn’t come until September 4. I have a week left, I said. I even had to point to where it said three months because despite their long staring at our passports, they somehow fail to read the information they need.
There are three checkpoints alone to get into Al-Ibrahimi Mosque, where Abraham, Jacob, and Lea are allegedly buried. Imagine dealing with that every time you wanted to go and pray. On Shuhada street, the main street that connects the north and south of Hebron, only settlers can walk on for the majority. So Palestinians are forced to use several sideroads to get to the other side of town. In one spot on Shuhada, there is a divide where settlers and Palestinians can walk. The Palestinian side is significantly smaller.
Upon entering the Jewish side of the Ibrahimi Mosque, soldiers would not allow Floss to go in wearing her hijab, regardless of the fact she was Christian. They said she looked Arabic and that people inside would think she was Arabic, suggesting they were violent. So she had to retie her scarf in a different way, and I was so angry that I couldn’t pray at the holy site. I just looked around at all these “Jews,” which were settlers, and felt hatred for the fact that they may have attacked my friend for wearing a scarf tied a certain way. We left after three minutes.
A man named Badia showed us around the city and as the closed gates and barbed wire and locked doors increased with every step, I felt my anger growing. I thought this may have been similar to what it was like to walk inside a Jewish ghetto in World War II. Except it was a Palestinian ghetto. We passed under wire nets put up to stop stones and trash thrown by people in the settlements above. All the shops were closed because no one wanted to shop there anymore. Some are closed by Israeli military order. Beggars follow you because they have no shops anymore and sell things out of their hand to try and support their family. At the end of our tour, we passed through the final checkpoint. They asked for my passport for the third time that day. When they took it, some small tears escaped my eyes. This caused more harassment for me. They asked where my visa was and I showed them the paper stapled into my passport. He asked why there was no stamp on the passport, and I said I had wanted a paper…so I got a paper! It was still perfectly valid. He let me through. As they were checking Paige’s passport, I tried to hold back, but the words came out “What do you call this ghetto?”
They didn’t answer.
I only had to endure one day. I was merely an observer. But this is people’s everyday life in Hebron. I was able to leave, and for that I am thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May we realize how privileged we really are.