The journey of a Palestinian woman


Reporting by Mel Frykberg

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Halima Abu Haneya




Al Bireh

Occupied West Bank

Trip duration: 1:34:00

Total distance: 16km

Average speed: 10km/h

Journey successful

Halima would like to visit the

al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

Halima Abu Haneya, 45, is an English translator and PhD student at Birzeit University near Ramallah. She is married and originally from the village of Anata near Jerusalem. She is travelling to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.




7:45 am


Looking anxious, Abu Haneya leaves from outside of the Red Crescent in al-Bireh near Ramallah, catching a service taxi to the Qalandiya checkpoint.


"I'm always worried about how it will be trying to get to Jerusalem. It's only 16km from Ramallah, but it takes at least an hour, depending on the traffic and how long we are delayed at the Qalandiya checkpoint. It should be a short journey and not so stressful and tiring."


8:05 am


Abu Haneya arrives at the Qalandiya checkpoint and sighs.


"How long will it take me to get through the checkpoint? It depends on how crowded it is and the mood of the soldiers. It is often a humiliating experience, and due to the stressful situation, fights sometimes break out between the queueing Palestinians to get through the turnstiles, as so few are let through at a time, and the security checks can take long."


8:10 am


Abu Haneya queues up to present her documents to Israeli soldiers manning the checkpoint.


"Rush hour has passed, so the checkpoint is not that crowded. But still, the soldiers are delaying people trying to pass through. Only three people are allowed through the turnstiles at a time to have their documents checked and to pass through the x-ray machines. It could have gone much more quickly. The soldier checking my special permit didn't even look properly. He was playing on his iPhone."

8:30 am


Abu Haneya leaves the Qalandiya checkpoint on a bus bound for Jerusalem. The relief at having finished this ordeal is obvious as she smiles.


"Half the stress is over now, but I'm still worried about whether they will let me into al-Aqsa when we get to Jerusalem. It's humiliating that Muslims are not allowed to pray freely in Islam's third holy site. It's all political. The Israeli settlers want to divide al-Aqsa like they divided the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Then the fanatical settlers want to replace the mosque with the third Jewish temple."

9:10 am


Abu Haneya arrives in East Jerusalem and walks towards Herod's Gate in the Old City, looking nervous.


"Will they let me in, or will they ban me like they're banning so many Palestinian women? They mostly ban these women because they protest against the Jewish settlers trying to pray at the mosque."


9:15 am


Abu Haneya walks towards the Israeli police stationed outside of al-Aqsa.


"Although I'm nervous about whether they will let me through to pray, as soon as I get to Jerusalem I start feeling like a new person. The air here seems different, and the city is so beautiful. This city is so important to Palestinians."

Trip duration: 1:34:00

Total distance: 16km

Average speed: 10km/h

Journey successful

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