V for Vacation
By Omar in Jordan, 24 April 2007
Yesterday I drove for around an hour all the way to the Jordan River near the Dead Sea; I was going to King Hussein’s gateway to pick up my parents who were spending some time in our native city Nablus, my father’s been planning to move out to there since ever but only recently managed to put some real effort in the process.
When I reached them they looked excessively exhausted, no doubt the trip (that technically should take an hour and a half!) is physically draining, not to mention humiliation, but they looked overly exhausted and I thought something’s wrong. When I asked my father about it and he answered very furiously:” Well, you can say I’ve been up for the last 48 hours! The Israelis thought Nablus citizens should watch some fireworks last night, and so they amused the inhabitants with some!” He was really pissed, and obviously loaded with much more to say. I waited until we reach home and they get some rest to set down and listen to what they got.
Later at night, they started telling me about the things they did, the people they met, and the places they went to, mostly people I already know and places I already had been to but I kept listening until my father started talking about the trip back to Amman, and to say the least, I never saw my father that disgusted and fed up in my entire life, he was about to blow up of anger while talking, he started talking about his last night in Nablus and how they spent it terrified counting the number of explosions caused by the Israeli Occupation Forces while trying to catch some 25-year-old suspect around the neighborhood, he said the Israeli army pounded a few houses with missiles and heavy weapons, not to mention a lot of gun fires all night long, it was a war zone he said, the only difference is that it was a one-sided war! They couldn’t sleep that night at all, they left very early in the next morning to avoid any unexpected traffic, of course, to those who don’t already know, the process of leaving any city in the occupied West Bank is very complicated, and may very easily fail! It all depends on the mood of the Israeli officer at each checkpoint, that is, every 10 to 20 kilometers! The first checkpoint you encounter when you leave Nablus is Huwara checkpoint, the infamous center of humiliation.
As I said, my parents reached there early inside a cab, they waited behind the long line of cars in front, after some time people are forced to leave the cars and walk on foot to take another cab waiting on the other side, that’s in case the Israeli officer said it’s ok to do so! People lining up were mostly women and old men, with a decent number of college and school students and teachers; my father was close to the office/barrack and could see the soldiers inside, and by soldiers I mean around 16-year-old kids holding M16’s taller than they are on their backs, the queue was stopped for a long time without one of the soldiers coming out to do some work as usual, my father had been there for around 2 hours now standing beside lots of older men only when they heard the soldiers kids laughing out loud inside their barrack and then started getting out of it playing in front of 300 people waiting for them to finish, one of the soldiers kids jumped on her soldier kid boyfriend’s back and started laughing and giggling while whispering to him and licking his ears and cheeks, my father describes the situation with genuine pain in his voice, he was furious to a point I cannot describe by words, after all, he was a man standing in line like a prisoner, right outside the city his family belonged to for thousands of years, waiting for a little girl, who he’s three times her age, to give him the permission to start searching through his stuff and then decides if he’s qualified enough to pass to the next checkpoint were he could be treated the same way. He then describes how the girl disgustingly orders old men to open their bags with the head of her machine gun, and then flips through their stuff with the same gun. I was pretty sure he intentionally cut some parts because if he didn’t he would’ve had a heart attack while repeating!
My mother took the story into another level, she bought me some very nice shirts and pullovers from there, they looked really expensive, and because I know that cloths are usually expensive in the West Bank, I asked her how much did all this cost? She said they were around $5 each! I couldn’t believe my ears; those shirts would have cost a small fortune in a normal situation, but that’s not even the point, she told me that she actually bought them out of pity! She entered a shop trying to find me a shirt or something, and the salesman literally begged her to buy anything! He was selling at 90% off the original prices; his family needs bread he said to my mother.
The situation inside the occupied West Bank is by all means miserable; the occupation is turning life there into a living hell; poverty, unemployment, lack of security, and desperation haunt the place, it’s unacceptable for human beings to continue living like this.