Flying Checkpoints and Traffic Jams: The Genius of the Israeli Occupation’s Architecture

I'm an Israeli lawyer, Jewish, married to a Palestinian resident of Ramallah. After years of wandering throughout the world, we returned to the West Bank with our two children, 5-year-old Forat and 2-year-old Adam. We are trying to lead ordinary lives in an extraordinary and unforgiving reality, one that I will share with you here. (Click to read all previous posts). I have changed the names of people in the blog, including my own. "Umm Forat" means "Mother of Forat" in Arabic.

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I finished a work meeting in Jerusalem at 5 pm and called my partner, Osama.

“I’m leaving now, sweetheart. Do you want me to make dinner when I get home?”

“That would be great,” he said. “We’re waiting for you.”

Waze informed me that it would take half an hour to get to the Jewish settlement of Givat Ze’ev, where there is an opening in the separation barrier that allows me to pass into the enclave containing the Palestinian villages of Jib and Bir Nabala. Walls and fences surround the villages from all sides, cutting them off from Jerusalem and Ramallah, and placing the nearby Israeli settlements on the Jerusalem-side of the barrier. A tunnel below the wall serves as the only passage to and from Ramallah.

I drove over the checkpoint’s speed bumps and entered the village of Jib. Minivans stood on the side of the narrow road, picking up workers returning from their jobs in Israel or in the settlements. About a kilometer from the exit tunnel, the traffic stopped. A long row of cars stood lined up along on the road, indicating that the tunnel ahead was closed. Ten minutes passed, then twenty. I began to feel a sense of helplessness. The checkpoint through which I had entered is restricted to incoming traffic only. I couldn’t use it to drive back to Jerusalem. The other drivers and I were trapped in the enclave.

I called Osama: “There’s a delay in Bir Nabala. Can you make dinner? Including vegetables for the children?”