Living between Two Countries-Under Stress

The life of a Jerusalemite family after the second intifada “Alaqsa intifada” 2000-2005,

During the period of the Palestinian second intifada (Intense Israeli-Palestinian violence period, Palestinians consider it as an uprising against Israel, while Israelis describe it as prolonged terror campaign), Israel used it as a pretext to control all areas in Jerusalem and control the movement of Palestinians from the West Bank to the occupied territories, so Israel started to make load demands to take all of Jerusalem with keeping the settlements there. Later in 2002, it turned into building the wall (separation wall that divides the Palestinian communities), then into keeping the checkpoints and army bases inside Palestinian land. So, by the wall that stretches for more than 700 kilometers, Israel has separated the Palestinians from their lands and relatives, taking the Palestinian land in the West Bank.

When I was a child and before they built the wall, we were living in the Northeast of Jerusalem, at Dahyit-Albarid which located in the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina and near Al-Ram village.  Both these villages are parts of the built-up urban area of Jerusalem, so, I and my whole family use to hold Israeli identity cards. Back then, my father worked in Jerusalem, and it used to take him about just 10 minutes to reach his workplace.  

Once the wall was built by the Israeli government it surround Al-Ram, along with the main road of Ramallah and Qalandia, separates a part of the neighborhood Dahiyat-Albarid from the rest of Beit-Hanina. Therefore, this neighborhood is no longer considered a part of Jerusalem, and if you want to preserve your Israeli identity card, you must leave your home and live outside the wall. For this reason, we had to leave our possessions inside the wall and move to rent an apartment outside the wall, although the rent in Jerusalem is more expensive because it’s the capital city.

We weren’t the only ones, all of our neighbors had to move too in order to keep their Israeli ID card. The head of Al-Ram Village Council stated that more than 30,000 residents of this village had an Israeli identity card. Since 2002, several thousand of them have moved to East Jerusalem because they had a lot of relations with East Jerusalem residents, like economic, health, educational and family relations.

Through 18 years we lived a beautiful life in Jerusalem, outside the wall, away from the checkpoints. I learned Hebrew and graduated from school with an Israeli (Bagrut) degree. Our neighbors were Palestinians and Jews, I had Jewish teachers in my school. Throughout those years of living in a home that is not yours, I thought our life was fine, until the time that I and my sister who is only one year younger than me had to study at the university came, so my family decided to save the rent in order to pay it to the university tuitions, and to move to live in a less expensive area that would let us keep our Israeli ID card, but it is located inside the separation wall.

I still remember my parents’ sad faces when we moved to our new house, the house was nice and beautiful, but the surrounding environment was and still is very different for us. Literally, as if we had moved from one country to another, despite the fact that the two areas follow the Jerusalem municipal boundary.

My mother said: “don’t worry it’s just temporary. We’ll just have to live here for a few years until you graduate, then we will go back to live outside the wall”. After less than two weeks, she said” Why are we here, Are we here to lose our lives?”, “well, You are right, mom” I said,”Why would your father have a heart attack unless he was arriving late at work every day after waiting in traffic caused by the Qalandia checkpoint for an hour to two hours to cross it every day? We all go through the same stress. I also waste a lot of time at the checkpoints and arrive late often, but I didn’t imagine that it could threaten your father’s life, pray for him” she said.Sadly, my father stayed at the hospital for about six months. It was the most difficult time of my life. I had recently started to study at the university and my father was suffering at the hospital, alone, while my mother was in total distress. Her life during this period was between her work and the hospital. I was hoping that our happy old life would come back. During the previous years, I felt that our life was going on normally, until I realized that it was not, when I felt that I would lose my father because of the restrictions imposed on the Palestinians in Jerusalem, which caused us to live under constant stress, I realized it was not, and that our rights to live in peace and in our own houses without any restrictions had been taken away from us.

How can a human live and face the suffering of the crossings, the very bad morning and evening road crises caused by the checkpoints, and the psychological stress daily? How can you live in the same Jerusalem area, with your home inside the wall, and your work, education, school, friends… your life is outside it?  Many feelings cannot be explained! Although the International Court of Justice ruled on July 9, 2004, that construction of the wall was “contrary to international law” because it involves the confiscation and destruction of Palestinian property and imposes severe restrictions on Palestinian movement. Israel claims that the separation wall is necessary for its security.”

Thank God my father now is fine, but our life as Palestinians isn’t, there is more than 100 000 Palestinians crossing Qalandia checkpoint at least twice daily. Sometimes, the traffic crises caused by the checkpoints is so unbearable, so you no longer care about going to your university, your work, your appointment or even your date, you simply get frustrated and go home.

Now I remember my school days when we had a class about democracy and human rights, which include the right of living a decent life, freedom of movement as well as to express your opinion freely, which is the most important thing that made me write my story, everyone has the right to live in peace. All I want, really hope is not wishing for our right rather than our dreams.

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