Today, two grown men cried. Don and I had the noon watch at the farmers” gate. Noon is the time when family members take food to those who work on the other side, in case they cannot come back. We were there until 4:00 p.m., but the gate never opened. Don is a minister of the United Church of Christ in the USA.
At two o”clock, we became seriously concerned about those waiting at the gate, three on the other side with one donkey, and about a dozen young men and a tanker truck on this side. So Don phoned the Center for the Defence of Individuals (HAMOKED an Israeli Human Rights organization, to find out what was going on. They said that because of the two suicide bombs last night, a widespread armed forces operation was being conducted and that all the check points and all the gates were shut completely. I phoned the Jerusalem EAPPI office to find out about the events after the bombing. What I heard explained all those jet plane and helicopter noises we had been hearing since early morning.
The young men gave up and went home. Apparently in the morning, when many farmers were going to work, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) had allowed only the older men to go through. So those young men had been waiting since early morning. A young man and a tanker truck driver remained waiting, hoping beyond hopelessness. The young man was carrying food for his relatives, and the tanker truck was for those machines which ran out of fuel. At 3:00 p.m., the young man made a fire and boiled water for tea, collecting all of our canteen water. It was good to have sweet spiced tea under the hot sun in the shade of an olive tree. But the situation looked hopeless. The donkey was protesting on the other side, trying vainly to lie down and have a nice scratch on the back. The old farmer was having a hard time keeping the poor animal standing with a full load of guava and tomatoes. We sent tea to the other side and threw some pita bread over the fence. He threw some guava to us. It was a picnic. I do not understand how they manage to keep a sense of humour in such a cruel and desperate situation. But they”ve been at it for a long time. At about 4:00 pm, Don and I gave up and started to climb the hill-4 km climb-for a shower and supper.
About half way up, we ran into an old farmer with a mule going down. Don tried to explain to him in his elementary Arabic that the gates were closed and would never be opened today. He looked completely lost. A "what-the -hell-am-I-supposed-to-do" look needed no translation. He stood there looking at us for a long time. Then he looked up, pointing a finger upwards, and said, "Inshala–God willing." When we started to climb again, tears formed in my eyes and I didn”t know what to do. But I noticed that Don took his glasses off and wiped them on his shirt. He was crying, too. We looked at each other and decided without words that it was okay to cry. So we did.That was the day after the suicide bombings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.