It is mostly quiet in the street where I “patrol”. The street is usually deserted, apart from the soldiers at the checkpoints and the odd Palestinian. The shops are all closed down. Their doors are all green but rotten because they are not used or painted or looked after. Most of them have David’s stars painted on them, just like the Nazis used to paint swastikas on Jews’ shops. Now it is Palestinian shops that have a Jewish sign on their doors.

Some pavements appear completely broken, as if some one had been repairing the underground pipes but had forgotten to close the crack. Fig 31

The broken street, K. explains, is also a common practice, to remove the pavement to humiliate them just a bit more, and make their lives just a little bit more impossible.

There is a feeling of being in a cemetery here, really, it is so silent. The only constant sounds I can here are the very distant, as if coming from a dream, of tooting horns. If it that part of Hebron had not been the first thing that I saw of the city, I would be still wondering where those distant tootings were coming from. I imagine the settlers must be wondering that too because, according to D., they are not allowed to visit the “Arab” zone of Hebron, and in fact I have never seen a single settler in the nice part of Hebron.

The only noise that breaks the silence within the area that is officially under Israeli control, and where Palestinians still “live”, are the settlers’ cars. In the Israel controlled zone, Palestinians are not allowed to travel by car, or any other motorised vehicle. I have seen a couple of bikes around, but I have never seen them put through the checkpoint. Israelis are indeed allowed to drive any vehicle they want.

When D. told me on my first day that “they drive like mad” I couldn’t quite figure out what he meant, in these narrow streets, but now I do know. Since Palestinians have no right to life in the settlers’ minds, there is no reason to slow down if they see one crossing the street.

The consequences that these difference of rights have on their daily lives are quite painful, even seen from the comfort of the stone where I’m sitting down, witnessing. We do not know how the settlers do their shopping as we only see them in their cars or when they take leisure walks, but we have seen Palestinians carry heavy loads on carts and on foot, slowly, all along the street. Tasks that could easily take a fraction of the time and effort. But they have to be made arduous by the will of a power that has decided that a (religious, ethnic…) group can only go around on foot or on a donkey.

While Israeli settlers go about their daily lives protected in their cars and/or with weapons on them, the Palestinians are forbidden any kind of weapons and made to walk among these armed people.

Children from the settlement go to school in a van that makes various trips a day. Palestinian children walk to and from school somewhat protected by the international presence that we foreign volunteers, armed with just our cameras, provide. And I do not dare think what would happen to these children if this continuous influx of foreigners with privileged passports stopped.

A sweeping vehicle similar to those that we can see in European cities sweeping the streets cleans the streets inhabited by Israeli settlers. As Palestinians are not allowed to drive any vehicle, the street inhabited by Palestinians has to be swept on foot, manually. So there the Palestinian sweeper goes, with his bin on wheels, sweeping the street little by little.

The sweeper disappears behind the corner towards the hill and then two mean emerge from the coffin-checkpoint. They are carrying a big sack that the soldiers make them open in order to inspect it. I can not see the content from here but it looks very heavy. The kind of load you would carry in a car or at least a cart. But carts are not allowed through that checkpoint.

When the soldiers lets them go, the men continue along the street, in front of me. One walks backwards, facing the sack and his friend. Every four or five steps, they stop, they leave the sack on the pavement for a few seconds, and then start walking again. They smile at me and they continue with their sack, stopping, resting and walking, stopping, resting and walking, slowly, towards the stairs at the other end of the street. Finally they step up the stairs and I can’t see them any more.

There are two skips, full of rubbish, opposite the checkpoint. One skip is for the Israeli rubbish; the other one is for Palestinian rubbish. Both of them are on a Palestinian street. It seems that the Israeli settlers consider themselves too pure to keep their rubbish container in their street.

A huge lorry with Israeli plates brings rubbish and throws it into the Israeli skips. The lorry is driven by a Palestinian – they can not drive their own vehicles, but they can drive Israeli vehicles in order to provide services for the Israelis. The Palestinian skip can not be filled with a lorry, since the Palestinians can not drive motorised vehicles here. So the Palestinians have the manage the Israeli rubbish with Israeli lorries, but their own by hand.