Saturday 10 January 2015

Friday 9th January

We walked along to a bend in the wall in Abu Dis/ Bethany on Friday 9th of January, just before it started to snow. When a group of kids from Bethany from about nine, probably up to 20 – 25 preformed their own ritual after Friday prayer:

We were walking up the hill from Abu Dis  when we saw a modest road block. Our Palestinian friend seemed completely un-phased and only remarked on it when we asked him. He said that kids were throwing stones over the wall and that we could watch if we wanted but that soon the soldiers would come.

I tried to take a picture – a small child was not the person I expected to voice displeasure at the camera; the fact that even this child was so conscious of evidence and the dangers of the activity made a big impression on me, as did his willingness to shout at a group of foreign adults.

While the younger ones smoked and occasionally threw stones that didn’t quite clear the wall, the “top boys” as we would call them had the honour of executing the main spectacle, the ritual punishment of the wall. I could see the head and shoulders of three lads, a yellow Fatah headband, a black hood and a red and white scarf. With a giant sledge hammer they  rhythmically battered the wall, echoing like a solemn church bell as the faithful came out to observe the service and cheer them on.

Cars and buses coming from Bethany that did not know about the road block were turned away by the groups’ makeshift traffic conductor. Considering he wore overalls and a balaclava and held a knife, he could hardly have done the job with any less aggression.

While Israeli soldiers massed behind the throbbing wall the crew kept on bashing away but our friend gestured for us to leave… and off we went.

It looked like fun…

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