Kalandia crossing compared to Auschwitz

Machsom Watch denies defacing sign with "Arbeit macht frei" graffiti, though some agree with message.

By
January 24, 2006 01:36
3 minute read.
kalandia auschwitz 298

kalandia auschwitz 298. (photo credit: )

 
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Vandals defaced the newly erected entry sign to the Kalandia terminal north of Jerusalem, daubing on it the infamous Auschwitz inscription "Arbeit macht frei," (Work Liberates). Security forces deployed at the recently refurbished checkpoint accused members of Machsom Watch, saying that its members were responsible for defacing the sign, which is decorated with a painted flower and the inscribed (in Arabic, Hebrew and English) with the slogan "The hope of us all." Adi Dagan, spokeswoman for the Machsom Watch checkpoint-monitoring group, vehemently denied the charges. However, Hava Halevy, a member of the women's group told The Jerusalem Post that she fully agrees with comparing the checkpoint to Auschwitz, the inscription and flower are not only degrading but also humiliating, she said. "Of course I agree with the comparison, the sign there is horrendous, hopes for what, the slave and the landlord, the oppressed and the oppressor, the occupier?... It is disgusting." Security officials said the flower and inscription in Arabic were designed as a friendly touch in the area that caters for the hundreds of Palestinians who use the checkpoint daily. Aside from the message of hope, words inscribed on the leaves and petals of the flower include tolerance and education, the officials said. Central Command headquarters has ordered the immediate removal of the graffiti. Sources at the command said that a soldier reported seeing a left-wing group with a cardboard stencil near the sign on Thursday and later noticed the graffiti. Dagan denied that anyone from Machsom Watch was involved. "It was probably done by a Palestinian, none of our women would write such a thing. We are very cautious when observing checkpoints," she said. "We do not want to give the army any excuse to kick us out," she added. Since the opening of the new terminal at the checkpoint, Machsom Watch members are barred from entering it and are forced to wait outside. Dagan the group has written to OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh demanding that they be permitted to monitor the situation inside. IDF sources said a decision was made to bar the women from entering the terminal in order to prevent them from interfering with the soldiers' work. Security officials claimed there have been numerous incidents of confrontations between members of Machsom Watch and security forces manning checkpoints and occasions when women have called the soldiers Nazis and other slurs. One security official cited an example of a recent confrontation involving MK Binyamin Netanyahu's sister-in-law Neta Ben Arzi, who he said called one of the soldiers manning the Kalandia checkpoint a Nazi. "The poor guy was shocked, his commander comforted him and calmed him down, and told him that such behavior was not worthy of a response," said the official. The head of the district coordinating office has complained to his superiors over the behavior of some Machsom Watch members towards officers deployed at the checkpoint. The document, obtained by The Jerusalem Post, describes an incident on the day last month that the new terminal was opened. Three members of Machsom Watch approached a Civil Administration officer deployed at the sleeve used by Palestinians seeking to enter Israel and waving a piece of paper, demanded to speak to the commander in charge. The officer told the three he would be willing to assist, but only if they modified their behavior. In response, the three screamed at the officer and said "this place is a concentration camp, you are behaving like the Nazis," and you should "put up a sign that work liberates instead of the sign you have erected at the entrance," they declared.

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