October 23, 2015
Relaxing, in the arms of the police
"Isn't it lovely? isn't it wonderful?" For long I had pressed Ahmad to do something nice together and after a very tough week for both of us, he surprised me and suggested to go and sit on a mountain.
I thought this was a great idea. There are few places of leisure where we can both go freely, and Ahmad knows how much I favor mountains. Most of the mountains in the Judean desert have hardly any vegetation, but Ahmad took us to Bab AlShams ("the Gate to the Sun). Somehow this mountain catches more rain than others and has lots of trees, perhaps because it is the highest in the area.
Bab AlShams is situated between Al-Za'im and Ma'ale Adumim. It came in the news when in January 2013 a few hundred Palestinians put 25 tents next to it out of protest against immense Israeli building plans in this area (area E1). They were evacuated by Israeli authorities after a couple of days.
We drove to the top, through a steep unpaved a road, where one has a beautiful view of the surroundings in all directions. Even the fact that the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim takes part of the view cannot damage the magnificence. We sat for an hour or so in the shade, talking things over and trying to relax. This was important for both of us; again too much tension had accumulated. I was satisfied and even smiled.
However, the road down was more frightening than the way up. A police car blocked our way and two armed officers stepped out. We were requested to leave the car and separated. My ID card was taken and then each of us was interrogated. "What were we doing there? Where were we going? Didn't I know this was an area closed by the army and that it was forbidden to be there?" My response that we had been sitting on top of the mountain and looked at the view, and that now we are going home, did not make much impression. They checked our details in the computer and told us that they'll take us to court.
They then inspected the car from top to bottom, probably for drugs or a weapon or so, and afterwards showed me a legal document explaining this is a closed area. I was scared to death that the next step would be to take out the handcuffs, so I didn't really concentrate on the paper. What I guess is that the area was acclaimed a military zone after the anti-occupation event mentioned before, and perhaps because it is relatively high, overseeing many places. However, it is just a bare mountain.
During the twenty or so minutes, which felt like ages, each of us used his charms. I apologized, told them I had no idea I did something wrong and gave them my card. Eventually, they said that we were free to go - this time...
Although this was a relief, it took me days to relax. What started as an attempt to free ourselves somewhat from sorrow, ended... What can I say? As Ahmad said, "they really don't want us to enjoy life".