Going to the Hospital. Report 5, June 2005.
My friend's aunt had to get an operation done. I didn't quite understand at first, something to do with her leg. He was going to visit her in the hospital in Jerusalem, so when he heard that I wanted to go down as well, he suggested we make the trip together. Ok, I said.
We started out the usual way: going through the Qalandia checkpoint. Once to the other side, I figured we would take a taxi straight to Jerusalem. I was a little mistaken. We took a taxi to Abu Diss - that neighborhood East of East Jerusalem that Israel likes to mask to the world as the future Palestinian capital city in Jerusalem (needless to say it's about as close to Jerusalem as Ramallah is). The taxi heads East, down the hill towards the Dead Sea, in the opposite direction of Jerusalem. I can see the Wall snaking all around the landscape, some places where it is still under construction.
The ride continues for perhaps another 20 minutes - short by intifada standards. We go through the neighborhoods of Ayzariya and Abu Diss until we turn a corner and there's the Wall in front of us. My friend asks the driver to stop at "the door." I expected a checkpoint. Mistake number two. Of course I ask my friend to pose by the Wall to take his picture. There's a grafitti of a little kid and a ladder that goes up all along the wall. I can't fit it in the camera's frame, it's so damn big. After some posing, my friend walks me up a hill to the door. An opening of less than a meter wide with barbed wires everywhere. On the other side a little kid sits playing with an empty Coca Cola bottle. "There's no one" he says, referring to Israeli soldiers. My friend and I sneak through.
The other side of the wall (now we're officially in East Jerusalem) is painted with words of support from various international groups. It reminds me a bit of the difference between East and West Berlin, and how the West used to be an artistic display of defiance against segragation. I want to take more pictures. My friend rushes me as he hears a military nearing. I trust that after growing up here he can hear the difference in jeeps to know when to hide. We run to catch a bus. This is still only the first of three more buses we need to catch before we get to the hospital.
We sit with his aunt for a little under hour. She's just had her hip bone replaced. She's in pain. I don't think she'll remember our visit, given the amount of pain medication she's on. We decide to head back. I realize, much like before during the height of the Intifada, that our visit last by far less than the actual trip itself. Three taxis and three buses, two hours and about $5. It's a major improvement compared to a few years ago.
But there's something a little different about this trip. It was essentially illegal. My friend holds a Palestinian ID and is not allowed inside Israel. And yet there's a "door" in the wall that everyone knows about, from the cab drivers to the soldiers. I'm convinced the politicians know about it too, whether it be Ariel Sharon or Mahmoud Abbas... I don't understand, if Israel is trying to keep the Palestinians out, why allow for doors in the wall? Or is it symbolizing something else: that no matter what you erect in front of Palestinians, they will still manage to deal with it?
Posing by the wall.
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