Day 311: Check Point Love Story
Palestinians commuting through Huwwara check point (the ‘Humiliation Place’ as called by Palestinians) experience new methods, of degradation everyday.
It is a well known fact amongst Palestinians that this check point in particular, is the worst place to cross. Israeli military has made a habit of humiliating commuters in every way possible.
At the check point, local civilians are often stripped naked in the rain in front of their children as well as in front of strangers. Others are been beaten, handcuffed or blindfolded. The lucky ones are delayed for several hours then, when it is too dark to return to their home they are let go. This is especially dangerous as the army is known to shoot at anything that moves in the dark.
Since the Intifada began, Huwwara check point has become the main crossing point to or from Nablus. Commuters risk their lives and dignity in order to make a living, seek medical care, go to school or have important appointments.
On Friday, April 25th, Shukri Oudeh, a lawyer from Jerusalem, attempted to cross the ‘Humiliation Place’ to get to Nablus to ask for the hand of Maha Khalil, a nurse from Nablus who works in Jerusalem. Oudeh, his family and friends, were with him to celebrate this time honored tradition.
“Nablus is a closed military zone” was the reply given to Oudeh by the soldiers as he attempted to cross to Nablus and celebrate the most important day of his life. “You cannot go there, go home and come back another day” was the Israeli soldier’s order
Huwwara check point like many check points built by the Israeli army in Palestinian areas is controlled by the whim of soldiers who make up their own arbitrary rules. The fate of those who wait for the check point to open often have their ID’s confiscated, are beaten or at best humiliated.
Because Shukri is a lawyer from Jerusalem and holds an Israeli I.D card, he managed, after many hours, to cut a deal with the soldiers allowing him to meet his future wife between the buffering zones.
Shukri was determined to succeed in his mission of marrying Maha. He convinced Maha and her family to meet him at the check point and get married there. Even if it meant getting married at the check point and in front of the spiteful Israeli army soldiers, Shukri and Maha would have their day.
Al Ma’zoun (the Sheikh who marries couples) accompanied Maha’s family to the check point. A car parked near by was used as a platform for Al Ma’zoun to write the marriage certificate.
The wedding process took less than ten minutes but the party continued when other commuters who found themselves held by the army at the check point joined in. Soft drinks and sweets were offered by the family making the long waiting hours for commuters bearable.
The ordeal ended with a speech delivered by Al Ma’zoun who called for people especially the younger generations, to make use of every chance to live up to their commitments in spite of the Israeli aggression.
“The freedom the Americans are claiming to fight for does not seem to apply to Palestinians,” one of the commuters said.
A few months ago, marriage was an impossible undertaking for couples living in different areas. As for those living near each other it was agreed that the wedding party would take place as soon as the curfew is lifted, even if for few short hours.
The world is watching, yet has done little.
Radio Tariq Al Mahabbeh
Nablus Under Siege (Day 311)