Just another day

AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

Like if it is just another day, I arrive at the office in East Jerusalem. The a-Ram checkpoint was calm this morning after the demonstration of yesterday, ‘only’ about 45 cars were waiting to be checked. My identity was checked like every other pedestrian crossing the checkpoint on foot.

An old man standing before me showed his American passport, but was sent back as he could not show his visa. On the road towards the city, I saw again some Palestinians stand against a wall near the settlement of French Hill, checked as potential terrorists, but more probably desperate persons with a wrong color of identity card, looking for a job to be able to feed their families tonight.

The atmosphere in the office is somber and quiet as it has been since a couple of days, no laughter can be heard, but work also continues and people keep walking in for advice and assistance for the problems they face as Palestinian Jerusalem residents. The developments in the Palestinian towns in the West Bank are of course the topic of all conversations. “At least we are safe here” says somebody, but there is anger and frustration as there is so little we can do from here. Although Bethlehem and Ramallah are just a couple of kilometers away, it seems like another world.

At the e-mail I see, besides press releases, appeals, and protests, news from the petition that we as the Dutch community here are preparing. A Dutch press article starts with “Dutch people in Palestine request action against Israel as they are very concerned about the gross human rights violations that are taking place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”. We will hopefully be able to present this petition to the Dutch ambassador in Tel Aviv tomorrow. At least this is something I can do!

- the picture shows yesterday’s demonstration at Ram-checkpoint. An Israeli border police officer threatens a peace activist with his rifle. The demonstration brought a lot of people on the streets, AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis