FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Walls, Tunnels and Daily Humiliations

A while ago there was a big enough opening in the wall for a car to pass through. Now it is closed. The place is almost empty of people. A young man walks towards me, passes me and disappears into a ditch. And he is gone.

I follow him down into the wide ditch. The ditch is four meters wide with dirty brown water. I see four large cement pipes leading to the ditch. Three of them are blocked with cement blocks.

The obstacles have been removed by the fourth one. It smells foul, it smells of sewer. I lose my balance and my right foot sinks into the sludge. I lean down and look into the cement pipe, getting my camera ready. I see a shadow at the end of the pipe, 15 meters away. I lift the camera but immediately hear a man call out, “Please, please, don’t take any photo.”

I see an old man coming through the tunnel. With his legs spread to either side he tries to hop along. Sometimes he supports himself on a cane that he drives into the sewer. In the other hand, he carries a little bag. He slips a little bit. When he comes out of the tunnel, he looks at me, sees my camera and says, “Thank you.” I follow him a few hundred meters.

First, he removes a pair of black shoes from the bag, changes and puts the dirty ones in the bag. Looks at his trousers, sees that they have not been dirtied. Wipes off the cane with a napkin. Tells me that he is going to visit his wife who is in hospital. She has been there for a few weeks. His wife was put in hospital when there was an opening in the wall. He tells me that he has always lived in Jerusalem but that the wall that now goes through the northern part shuts him out of the city. He lives in the Al Ram district. He is soon on his way to have as much time as possible with his wife before he has to return in the evening. “I hope the water hasn’t risen by then,” he says.

I go through the tunnel. Come up on the other side. See some young boys who climb through. They ask me what I think about the wall. Tell me that they feel humiliated. Say that they come to school dirty every day and are dirty when they return home. The school on one side of the wall, the home on the other. Palestinians on both sides.

The wall separates Palestinians. Divides up the land. On a daily basis, they have to use a sewer drain to get to school, to work or to visit a sick loved one.

Two young men that I photographed coming out of the tunnel ask me to stay for a while. They tell me that they have come through the tunnel to help their mother. Their mother wears a black dress and carries a little brown handbag. I promise the men that I will not photograph. They carefully lift up her dress, almost carrying her through the tunnel. The water in the sewer is too deep, her feet drag in the water and she calls out. Soon, the three of them are back. One of the men says that they will have to try another time when the water is lower.

I arrived early in the morning. Most people from Al Ram use the tunnel to get to Jerusalem. They return in the afternoon, wanting to get back home before nightfall.

There is a large closed gate in the wall, 10 meters wide, close to the sewer pipes. The gate has an advanced locking mechanism and can only be opened by the occupation force, by young soldiers. Strangely enough, young children can squeeze through the gate because it has a 20 centimeter opening on one side. Some teenagers try, but they cannot squeeze through. For those under 15, there is a narrow opening. If you are older, you must use the sewer.

At first, I did not understand why the military has left a small opening in the gate. And I did not understand why the sewer tunnel remained open. After a few hours, I begin to see a pattern and in the pattern the answer probably lies.

In front of me I see the woman whose sons try to help her through the sewer, who gives up when the sludge is too deep, who wants to keep her dignity. I see the man who did not want to be photographed. The man who did not want his humiliation to be documented.

MATS SVENSSON, a former Swedish diplomat working on the staff of SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, is presently following the ongoing occupation of Palestine. He can be reached at isbjorn2001@hotmail.com.

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail