The Shyness Destination By Hamze Awawde, Palestine

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A few weeks ago I took the train from Tel Aviv to Kiryat Gat, on my way back home to Dura.

I bought a ticket to Kiryat Gat because it was closest to the Tarqumia checkpoint, which is the nearest checkpoint to Dura. It was my first time to travel by train in Israel, but I really wanted to experience what it was like. Another reason which encouraged me to take the train was the late time; I was scared of being stuck somewhere in Israel, with no buses driving to the checkpoint left working.

When the train started moving I realized that I had made the wrong decision, and that I should’ve bought my ticket to Beersheba. The train station in Kiryat Gat is very far from the Tarqumia checkpoint, and certainly at that time of night there would be no buses or taxis to get me there. Through Beersheba, I would have to use the Metar checkpoint, which is more distant from Dura. But since it’s a big city, I could find a taxi more easily there. So I understood that I should probably continue to Beersheba, get to the Metar checkpoint near Al Dahrya, (a small town near Dura), and from Al Dahrya it’s not difficult to travel to Dura even at midnight.

But in order to get to Beersheba, I would have to get off the train at the station in Kiryat Gat and buy a new ticket. This made me worried, since it meant that I would have to wait for the next train to arrive, and nobody knew when the next train’s exact time of arrival is, or how late it would be.

I was so confused. So I decided to ask one of the passengers on the train if my ticket from Tel Aviv to Kiryat Gat would still be valid if I stayed on the train and got off at the Beersheba station. I went to one guy who was standing near the trolley’s door to ask him if he thought that I would be able to continue to Beersheva with the ticket that I have. He said that I could, and that nobody would really check my ticket in Beersheba. Then he immediately asked me “Where are you from?“ I answered him, “Palestine.” At first he didn’t know what to say, until he asked again “What are you doing here?” I told him that I am a part of a movement that calls for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. He unconsciously started telling me about his eagerness for peace to happen someday, and started saying how he loves Makluba and Labneh and that he knows many bedouins in Rahat, and that everybody in Israel wants peace.

I appreciated his pleasant understanding of peace, but then he started asking all the people around us if they want peace with Palestinians, and he was pointing out that I’m a Palestinian. The passengers were confirming his yearning, saying “Yes, of course we want peace”. Someone even told me: “ Go to your people and tell them that we want peace.” Another woman said: “Tell Abu Mazen to stop driving Bibi crazy in order to have peace.” Others just looked at me and said, “Everybody loves peace,” and I didn’t know what to respond to them.

I started hoping that the train would reach Beersheba soon, as my face couldn’t hide the shyness I was feeling when hearing such responses from passengers I never intended to communicate with. But I was so happy in my heart to see people saying “peace”.

I arrived to Beersheba and took a taxi to the Metar checkpoint. There, I found many Palestinian women from the Hebron area gathering near the checkpoint, after a long time of being on the road. They were travelling to visit their relatives in the Israeli prisons. They were complaining about the hard day they had had, as they needed to wait for hours until they were authorized to pass the checkpoints, and then several hours more for the security checks within the prisons themselves, only to get a few minutes of conversation with their relatives through a phone, and a wall of glass separating them.

My mind couldn’t comprehend reality. On the one hand, you see signs of hope every day. Yet on the other hand, you also see signs of desperation. Which sings are more realistic? Which signs are stronger? Now I believe that the signs we feel and feed more are the ones more likely to win…

Hamze, Awawde,

YaLa Young Leaders

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