Saturday, February 05, 2005

Qualandia Checkpoint: Way of the Cross

By Ann Hafften

At Ramallah’s Qalandia checkpoint we undertook a Way of the Cross liturgy facilitated by friends from the Sabeel Liberation Theology Center. Amid the traffic and the dust raised by thousands of cars crossing over the rubbish and dirt and broken pavement of the checkpoint, we prayed Psalm 142. It seemed hazardous to cross the area on foot, but we did it and climbed a rough stairway to place where we could see the entire intersection, the soldiers across the way at the army lookout, and the Qalandia refugee camp beyond.

Hard to concentrate on our prayers with all the continuous uproar of people and vehicles and military below. Then came the sirens as two police cars careened into the area and drove fast right up to the edge of some tables where fruits and vegetables were displayed. The Palestinian vendors scrambled to load produce into boxes and out of the way of the car as the policeman screamed at them though a speaker. As they worked, the driver continually nudged the car closer and closer, almost bumping the tables and, it seemed, threatening to smash through at any minute and take out the whole stand.

The vendors hustled their wares into the backs of trucks. By the time we had spoken our psalm and sung a Taize song, they were returning tomatoes and oranges to their original places on the stand. They seem to be used to the officers’ furious response to their little business effort; the ear-splitting attempt at intimidation hardly slows sales. What a ridiculously fierce display of power.

Above a little Palestinian village towers a sprawling settlement. We said our closing prayers alongside the scene as we heard from one man whose home was demolished. He built it back up only to have it destroyed again, and one more time it was crushed. The people’s stamina and resiliency are unbelievable, but I can’t help thinking – How much can they take? God be with us all as we seek to be in solidarity with all who want justice and peace.

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