In late September 2002, we started going to school again despite the curfew, which was imposed by the Israeli army. We went to school risking our own lives, as we could have stumbled on an Israeli tanks or soldiers paroling the streets. We would walk 2 or 3 km to avoid them, yet we were caught sometimes.
One day we were coming back from a long day at school, when the driver in the bus announced, “there is a checkpoint ahead, I am going to drop you here, and you can walk through the mountain.” When he finished his announcement, I looked to my new shoes, and then to my friends “I am not walking through the mountains, I am going through the checkpoint!” all of my friends agreed to go with me but two.
We walked confidently to the soldiers expecting to pass in 10 minutes, 20 minutes top. We walked down the streets, for a while before a few soldiers showed up at the gate of a building 100m away from the tanks, they asked us to stop, and to hand them our IDs if we had any.
The soldiers asked us to follow them. Confidently we followed them as we expected that they were going to lets us go in a minute or two. The soldiers took us to a wider side walk, in front of a building containing warehouses in the ground floor and apartments in the first and second floor. They asked us to stand. Then, 40 minutes later, another soldiers came by and said, “everybody sit now.”
They took our IDs around 2:30pm, we were released at 9:00pm. We were forced to sit in the cold, with 3 soldiers standing guard. We weren’t allowed to talk or even to look at each other, every person who dared to talk, move or look to anyone around him would be punished by having to stand on his knees in the street with his hands behind his neck.
We stayed there for hours before soldiers showed some mercy and let all the kids under the age of 16 leave, leaving me and another 20 high school students on the streets. We stayed, looking down at the street, until someone came up with a fun small game: throwing small stones on the soldiers standing guard! The soldiers didn’t get our sense of humor. They ended up forcing us all to stand against the wall, with our hands behind our heads. For the next 2 hours I thought of nothing but expecting one of us to be shot in the head by the soldiers. I didn’t feel safe until one soldier called my name to give me my ID back, while telling with a hand gesture that I was allowed to go.
This story burly represent 1% of the Palestinian people suffering, yet it help explaining the collective punishment policies the Israeli adopted to deal withe the Palestinian population. later that night curfew was imposed, we would return to school 2 weeks after.