The journey of a Palestinian man


Reporting by Mel Frykberg

Watch his journey


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Dr Sami Nakhleh



Jalazone refugee camp

Occupied West Bank

Qalandiya Checkpoint


Total time: 0:57:00

Total distance: 10km

Average speed: 9km/h

Journey unsuccessful

Dr Sami would like to visit some

family members in Jerusalem

Dr Sami Nakhleh is a 44-year-old doctor from the Jalazone refugee camp. Married with two children, he has been practising medicine for 17 years. He also runs the camp's medical and civil defence unit. He is travelling to visit family members in Jerusalem.

2:22 pm


Nakhleh leaves Ramallah in his car to drive to the Qalandiya checkpoint.


He explains why he and so many Palestinians want to go to Jerusalem: "It's the dream of all Palestinians, Muslim and Christian, from the West Bank, Gaza and outside Palestine to visit al-Aqsa Mosque and see Jerusalem. We want to visit our holy places. We feel weak and hopeless, as we can't challenge the Israelis and just have to obey what they say."

3:00 pm


After battling heavy traffic, Nakhleh arrives at Qalandiya checkpoint tense and expecting the worst. "Before the Israelis built the checkpoint, it was a quick and easy journey to Jerusalem. Now, just to travel a few miles is a long and tiring journey."


He hears a female Israeli soldier barking orders at Palestinians trying to pass through. "I'm feeling disgusted just at the way [she] is talking to the Palestinians. She is treating them as non-humans, deliberately trying to make them feel like less than nothing."


Nakhleh waits in the queue with many other Palestinians, battling the heat while the soldiers are on a break.


"The soldiers have left the windows, and even though there are not that many people waiting, a number of people have left because they got tired of waiting and were confused by the female soldier’s instructions. She just yelled at them the whole time. It is very hot here and people are tired of waiting and standing in the heat. You can smell the sweat."

3:19 pm


Nakhleh is requested to take off his belt before he passes through a metal detector. He comes back, visibly angry.


"After 20 minutes, I went through the x-ray machine. I was told I was forbidden from entering by Israeli security, and that I would never see al-Aqsa or Jerusalem. I have family there and when I tried to take my mother, who was ill, for specialist treatment in Jerusalem - because we don't have many specialists in the West Bank - I was still refused a permit."


Leaving the Qalandiya terminal, his disappointment is obvious. "I can't believe I can't see my family in Jerusalem or the rest of my country, while the Israelis are free to travel wherever they wish. They can visit the sea and the mountains, but we, the original inhabitants, are stuck under occupation, which we are made to really feel at the checkpoints."


He climbs back into his car and begins the return journey to Ramallah in congested traffic.


Total time: 0:57:00

Total distance: 10km

Average speed: 9km/h

Journey unsuccessful

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Trip duration: 1:34:00

Total distance: 16km

Average speed: 10km/h

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Trip duration: 1:59:00

Total distance: 10km

Average speed: 5km/h

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