Caritas Jerusalem report on 'The Way of Suffering'

 Caritas Jerusalem wishes to point to the immense suffering facing the residents of Nablus who wish to undertake a short trip of only 47 kilometres to the city of Ramallah. This short trip is truly a "Way of Suffering" for the untold thousands who have to undergo this journey. It is important to note that this article concerns only stationery checkpoints and does not refer to checkpoints erected in between the stationery checkpoints, which add more time and uncertainty to the journey. Views of the Way of Suffering between Nablus and Ramallah Nablus - WAFA - People who are entering and exiting from Nablus suffer from the checkpoints of the Israeli army without care for their ages or health dispositions. There is no difference between women or men, children or aged. When you decide to travel from Nablus to Ramallah, you will first of all have to exit the checkpoint at Hawarra, situated south of Nablus city, which is considered the exit from the city that women and children find the easiest to pass through. Entering does not have many obstacles. Maybe it is due to the presence of Israeli activists and foreigners from the peace movements and volunteers. To pass through means waiting too long under the hot sun in the summer and during very cold periods in the winter. (Note: Nablus is situated at 570 meters above sea level in the central West Bank and is quite cold in the winter.) Parallel to this, the males who are under 35 years of age who wish to pass through undergo a type of punishment by forcing them to wait long hours until they are allowed to pass through. Their alternative to this is to go back from where they came. After crossing the Hawarra checkpoint, the traveller waits to see what will happen at the Za'tara checkpoint, located 3 km south of the Hawarra checkpoint, waiting for hours in order to pass the long car queues. Cars filled with children crying and shouting from the unbearable heat, women complaining, and the elderly people who are unable to deal with the situation. After long hours of waiting, the soldier orders you to walk, saying "Sa'" which means go on without being checked. And after passing the Za'tara checkpoint, you face the Lubban al Sharqie checkpoint located 22 km south of Nablus, where the Israeli soldiers have occupied a two-floor house for more than two years and where barracks were established. There you have to wait to cross through the long queues. After ordering the travellers to get out of the cars and busses, and checking their identity cards, they are permitted to pass. After suffering on these three checkpoints, the travellers face the fourth one, Atara checkpoint, northern west of Ramallah, which is the most difficult to pass. It consists of three queues of cars from three sides, where getting the permission to pass takes more than three hours, after being checked carefully, of course. In this way, you arrive to Ramallah, after this fatigue. Before thinking about returning to Nablus, all you have in mind is these checkpoints and bearing the inconveniences and long waiting hours under the burning sun (or freezing cold). Translated from Al Quds Newspaper June 8, 2004 pg 10 by Caritas Jerusalem staff. Caritas Jerusalem is a Catholic humanitarian organization engaged in relief, development and social service projects throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is part of Caritas Internationalis, a humanitarian network, which numbers 160 Catholic Member Organizations operating in 200 countries and territories.

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