From 2:30 till 6:00 PM
Givat Zeev CP, Vocational School Atarot, Qalandia, Leel, road via Hizme to
Jericho Road, Anata, A-Ram, Nebi Samuel and Ramot CP.
Our shift this time involved a lot of driving. The wall along the road from
Ramot to Givat Zeev is now almost completed and it is hard to discern where
the lower road under the highway, meant only for Palestinians is actually
located. The G. Zeev CP has been built up and looks as if it will turn into
one of the major passages into the W. Bank. At this time we could drive all
the way to where huge boulders blocked our way to the cars and cabs waiting
for workers to return home. Two or three actually already proceeded on foot
via a dirt track to a small shed where a soldier was checking their
In search of our friend the Principal of the Vocational High school in
Atarot, we heard that schools are closed on Thursdays and Fridays - the
students who live far off (Jenin, Nablus and Hebron) go home on
Wednesday-afternoon to return to classes on Saturday morning. We will try
and find Mr. Wasfi Tamimi on another day. We took the guard of the school
who had finished his shift, to the Qalandia CP and crossed North with the
car without any delay, then continued along heaps of garbage and also
beautifully exhibited vegetable stands via Leel (again no control
whatsoever) and decided to take the road all the way down to the Mishor
Adumim Industrial Area. On the way we saw new road construction and parked
cars at the Eastern entrance to Anata and then encountered the signs of the
soon to be constructed Nofei Anatot settlement. Further down the road we
noticed how the Bedouin are being pushed aside by enormous quarries. On the
right we got a good view of the Police HQs on Area E1 and then saw the first
signs telling us that ‘Mevasseret Adumin is HERE!' We then went into Anata
from the West and saw that more vegetable stands have been erected and
another elongated ‘cage' has been set up on the northern side of the road,
facilitating the work of the soldiers checking those who exit to Jerusalem.
The BP-girl didn't check our Id's when she realized we were Watch Women.
We then continued to A-Ram and saw that the wall indeed now closed off the
entire neighborhood, facilitating the access for us to Qalandia. The ‘random'
Atarot CP, which has been almost empty when we passed from the other side,
now had to deal with a long line of waiting cars, but we left unhindered to
the other direction. In Nebi Samuel there were lots of cars and buses at the
Jewish site. In the village we noted farm animals (sheep, donkeys and
chickens) in a couple of improvised pens and wondered whether the Red Cross
had provided them. Our acquaintance of the grocery store was very upset. He
had bought loads of vegetables wanting to make some kind of a living and had
set up a stand (on his own land) near the Jewish Pilgrimage site, hoping to
do a brisk business. An orthodox Jewish ‘friend' (his ‘brother') a dropout
from the Yeshiva on that spot confirmed the story. He had been given three
days to dismantle everything and when he was not fast enough, the ‘minhal' -
people who demolish houses sent by the Civil Administration - had come and
trampled over everything causing him to lose a lot of money because he had
invested in vegetables the local population doesn't eat, such as beets,
sweet potatoes, etc. He can now throw it all away. He has contacted B'Tselem
and his lawyer and begged us to report on the matter, which we promised to
At the Ramot CP we saw a police car stopping cars at random and also two
cars parked on the side of the road, when we went to investigate it turned
out that one of the cars had punctured tires because it had driven over the
police barrier and waited for assistance and that the police was after
stolen cars; the Border Police soldier who assisted them answered us: "Don't
worry this is not a CP in the territories," implying that here all they do
is OK unlike on the other side of the wall.
Roni Hamerman, Ronit Bak, Tamar Fleishman (reporting and taking photos)
Bir Zait / Atara checkpoint
15:50- The Givati soldiers that had only recently come back from the battle field at Gaza, were once again running the checkpoint, but now they seemed to be calmer then ever before. They took less notice of the Palestinians and most of the time they were busy engaging in conversations amongst themselves. The result: traffic was flowing without any disturbance.
Gaba/ Leel checkpoint
16:50- A vehicle was parked inside the checkpoint and from it dressed-up girl came out, they were distributing holiday parcels to the solders at the post. They later crossed the road and went towards the pillbox, not forgetting the eyes and mouths of the soldiers that were observing from above.
The checkpoint commander came to us and said: "Do me a favor, I would be most grateful if you could get rid of this checkpoint"- we promised to try.
Before heading on our way a military vehicle stopped right beside us, in it were two soldiers in uniforms that were just ironed. One of them said to us in Hebrew and a small portion of English: "we will accompany you on your ride". We were puzzled so the soldier apologized and explained that they were waiting for some American donors how were supposed to visit their unit.
- Are they still (or perhaps again) collecting charity from the Jewish communities abroad, for the poor IDF?
17:00- We entered the town from the only side left open in the exclave. A perishing city, surrounded by a wall was revealed to our eyes.
We drove through Ar-Ram to the southern wall. We wanted to feel how it is to be on the dark side of the moon.
There was a melancholic atmosphere. We saw no anger, revolt or will for revenge. Only despair, a great and grim despair.
While we were standing in front of the locked mettle gate, by the wall that suffocates the lives of the thousands living in it, a dark and horrible silence had immerged from the gray reality like a muted scream, while twilight broke.
17:40- Our friend, the coffee peddler, told us about the day to day reality during the mornings, ever since Ar-Ram checkpoint had been taken down. Hundreds of people had now joined on those thousands that had always been going there: some on their way to work and others (children) on their way to school. He said it is especially difficult on Sunday mornings, the pressure remains until 9:00 AM and sometimes even later.
- We wished him a happy holiday (the birth of the profit was due on the next day), but he informed us that many don't celebrate it any more. Those with a job wouldn't dream of taking a day off, from fear that they might get laid off.
We arrived at the checkpoint with a meter and decided to measure the sizes of the human cages. Here are the results from left to right:
Cage 1: 61 cm
Cage 2: 56 cm
Cage 3: 54 cm
- Each week it is more and more evident that the maintenance of the facilities isn't sufficient: the other turnstiles weren't working and they were connected to the main poll in a most improvised manner, the intercom buttons haven't been working for some time now so no one can use the "humanitarian" gates. A person carrying luggage will find it most difficult to pass through the cages, since they are so narrow, even a person who is a little over weight would find this to be a difficult task, but what about those on wheelchairs?
This is the real manifestation of idiocy
- When we were heading back from the checkpoint we met a man carrying a large TV set, with which he was hoping to pass. After the security forces noticed him with their plasma screens, they opened the first turnstile and he found himself caught between the first one and the next. He was stood there for 20 minutes. We joined him as he was waiting. A security man finally came to help him make way, but he didn't have a key to open the chain locking one of the gates (as I mentioned earlier they aren't working). He joined those waiting and got cross at us, in stead of being angry at the reality: "I'm not hear to play games...". After a while a colleague of his arrived with the magic key, but they couldn't let the Palestinian out through the straight way as they weren't able to open the exit gates, so they had to walk him through the curving path together with his TV set: the went to the inner lot of the Kiryat Ha'Memshala and from there to the back passage.
It must again be pointed out that they call this place a "border passage"
Reporting:Chana and Sheila (with Avital driving)
We arrived at the Qalandia
crossing a little before 7AM and found very long lines moving very
slowly. After a few phone calls, the speed visably picked up. The
students explained to us that they used to go through the A-Ram
crossing, but that it had been officially closed a few days
previously. The policemen and soldiers there were very responsive to
our requests, for example to allow sick infants to go through the gate,
rather than the carousel. One soldier was Tomer but we are not sure he
was THE Tomer whose phone number we have. We left about 8:15 AM and
went to see what was doing at A-Ram. It was obviously being dismantled
but there were some cars still going through
checkpoint is closed. There was no checking of vehicles into Ar Ram. There was
checking of those going into Jerusalem. The temporary fence is in the process
of being dismantled, up to the intersection of the stadium intersection. The
people were ruminating "We just need bread for our children". There was a lot
of garbage on the street. The iron fence of Ar Ram was closed. There was only
an exit to the north. Palestinian Ar Ram was closed.
the plaza of Qalandiya on the Jerusalem side, there was a group of English
youngsters (wearing kipot) being guided by an Israeli who came to Israel in a
program called "Learning about the realities" The guide had heard about
machsomwatch and allowed us to answer the questions of the
circles -- the north and the south. Cars from Atarot, Ar Ram, inspections
without purpose at the checkpoint of vehicles leaving, and a total stoppage of
all lanes in the northern circle. Everything stood still, even the alternative
routes around the circle. Blocked. A driver said "There is no democracy here
-- no human rights. You have a heart of stone that drives us to
the private vehicles heading to Palestinian Ar Ram from Atarot and Jerusalem
were directed through. Trucks and minibuses went straight ahead. For those
going through Ar Ram, the way is longer. We did not understand the reason for
the congestion. Could it be related to the changes in southern Ar
it. A soldier was trying to make order. We called to those responsible to have
them open another sleeve. Within minutes, they announced the opening of a new
lane and people races to the new lane. And -- the lane was closed. (Perhaps it
was never even opened). Everyone went back to the old lane. This pattern
repeated itself three times during the time that we were there.
everything. The problem was that not everyone knew about that and there were
those who went in and were sent back and started waiting all over
same thing happens as above. The total confusion, absence of organization, and
the total absence of concern especially felt today. There was the feeling that
all those responsible for the checkpoint today, from the simplest soldier up to
the very top brass -- all of them lost their humanity. People were infuriated.
An older woman broke down in tears. Yes, she is here every day.
are opened. A young woman must take off her boots. "You are ignoring us" says
the woman soldier from behind the closed passageway. The pleas of the young
woman did not help, she removed her boots and appeared in pretty stiped socks on
the freezing and filthy floor. She put the boots through the machine. It got
stuck. Then they went through. The young woman was consumed with anger from
the frustration. The argument at the window continued "until the matter is
solved". The entire line was being punished. The young woman shouted out on
behalf of the violence against whole line, against all this shame. She was
detained in a side room. Policeman P.K. asked her to accompany him. He
promised us that she would be released in a few minutes. We waited a while
longer and left.
wall. The iron gate between Ar Ram and Qalandiya was closed.
15:50 Ar Ram Today, we were informed that the Ar Ram checkpoint is closed. There was no checking of vehicles into Ar Ram. There was checking of those going into Jerusalem. The temporary fence is in the process of being dismantled, up to the intersection of the stadium intersection. The people were ruminating "We just need bread for our children". There was a lot of garbage on the street. The iron fence of Ar Ram was closed. There was only an exit to the north. Palestinian Ar Ram was closed.
16:05 Qalandiya From afar, we could see a line at Atarot. In the plaza of Qalandiya on the Jerusalem side, there was a group of English youngsters (wearing kipot) being guided by an Israeli who came to Israel in a program called "Learning about the realities" The guide had heard about machsomwatch and allowed us to answer the questions of the youngsters.
16:25 There was a huge bottleneck around the two traffic circles -- the north and the south. Cars from Atarot, Ar Ram, inspections without purpose at the checkpoint of vehicles leaving, and a total stoppage of all lanes in the northern circle. Everything stood still, even the alternative routes around the circle. Blocked. A driver said "There is no democracy here -- no human rights. You have a heart of stone that drives us to hell".
16:50 The iron gate of the wall to Ar Ram was opened and all the private vehicles heading to Palestinian Ar Ram from Atarot and Jerusalem were directed through. Trucks and minibuses went straight ahead. For those going through Ar Ram, the way is longer. We did not understand the reason for the congestion. Could it be related to the changes in southern Ar Ram?
16:35 In the waiting area cage. There was only one sleeve opened.
17:55 At least 70 people were in front of the left cage and in it. A soldier was trying to make order. We called to those responsible to have them open another sleeve. Within minutes, they announced the opening of a new lane and people races to the new lane. And -- the lane was closed. (Perhaps it was never even opened). Everyone went back to the old lane. This pattern repeated itself three times during the time that we were there.
The meanwhile, lane 5 was opened to those not carrying everything. The problem was that not everyone knew about that and there were those who went in and were sent back and started waiting all over again.
17:20 Started to pass through the cage
17:33Waiting in lane 3. There was a huge line, and again the same thing happens as above. The total confusion, absence of organization, and the total absence of concern especially felt today. There was the feeling that all those responsible for the checkpoint today, from the simplest soldier up to the very top brass -- all of them lost their humanity. People were infuriated. An older woman broke down in tears. Yes, she is here every day.
18:00 There is still a line in sleeve #3. Now, lanes 2 and 5 are opened. A young woman must take off her boots. "You are ignoring us" says the woman soldier from behind the closed passageway. The pleas of the young woman did not help, she removed her boots and appeared in pretty stiped socks on the freezing and filthy floor. She put the boots through the machine. It got stuck. Then they went through. The young woman was consumed with anger from the frustration. The argument at the window continued "until the matter is solved". The entire line was being punished. The young woman shouted out on behalf of the violence against whole line, against all this shame. She was detained in a side room. Policeman P.K. asked her to accompany him. He promised us that she would be released in a few minutes. We waited a while longer and left.
18:30 We went through lane 3 at 18:30.
18:43 A long line of cars heading north, along the Ar Ram wall. The iron gate between Ar Ram and Qalandiya was closed.
Hana T and Ruti B
ambulances. It's not sure what is happening. We were not delayed at Ar Ram.
Traffic was flowing.
empty. The lane for traffic heading north was flowing without disturbance. The
additional checkpoint that was functioning for the past weeks was done away
with. There are two lanes open and there is a new sign, much larger than the
previous one saying that it is forbidden for Israelis to go in. The sign is on
the northern side and its twin on the southern.
traffic. We counted that it took between 10 and 15 minutes to pass
was no delay. Immediately, an ambulance of the Red Crescent arrived and there
was a back to back transfer. Since we were on the northern side, we were only
able to photograph from afar.
pedestrians. Initially, only one lane was open and then another was opened and
the passage was quick. Thank heavens for small changes. Two weeks ago, people
were passed one by one and now, 4 people enterered at once. In Atarot, from
afar, therer is a lot of pressure. We could not stay at the intersection.
There was tremendous noise. A new traffic circle is being built and at the
moment, it is partially closed near by the wall and of course, at the circle,
there is already an army position. The border police did not . volunteer to
give any explanations. "You'll know when the time comes". Two soldiers and a
soman soldier detained two children who were about 10 years old. They poured
out the sacks in which they had collected small pieces of metal and apparently,
also provided them with an educational session.
I got stuck in traffic approaching French Hill and came late. I came via A-Ram CP where I saw only a few cars and no pedestrians or detainees. The road to Qalandiya via Beit Hanina was blocked by a huge truck so I had to go via Dahiyat el-Barid and A-Ram. In Dahiya Square, just before the gate in the Wall, work is being done on the road on the Jerusalem side of the Wall and, as a result, the Wall has been pushed eastward, biting off a considerable chunk of the Square. The road on the eastern (i.e. Palestinian) side of the Wall has been completely destroyed creating large potholes that have filled up with water and mud. It's very difficult to drive there and even harder to get through on foot.
15:50: The lines in Qalandiya CP were still very long. We phoned Mahdi (Commander of the Passageways Unit) who, unusually for him, actually answered our call. We reported conditions at the CP to him and asked him to help. He promised to see what he could do. Although he didn't open any other passageways, waiting time got much shorter - perhaps he told his soldiers to work more efficiently.
16:00: We went out to the Northern Square to see what was happening at the vehicle CP. We counted 7 buses waiting in the Square to enter the CP.
16:08: We returned to the pedestrian CP in the shed and got in line with the others. While we were waiting, a friend phoned us from Ramallah and told us that at this very hour he was participating in a large and impressive demonstration for peace that was taking place in the center of Ramallah. He estimated that there were about 10 thousand people there from all parts of the West Bank (including Nablus, Hebron, Qalqilya and Tul Karem), from all the political and NGO organizations and they were all demanding that the Arab leaders bring peace to the region. A young woman standing in line with us overheard the conversation and said that she too had participated in the demonstration. We guess that participation in the demonstration was the reason for the unusually large crowds at Qalandiya early on Monday afternoon. Interestingly, there was no mention at all of any demonstration for peace in the Israeli media.
In any event, at this time it took us only 12 minutes to pass through the CP and emerge on the Jerusalem side of the barrier. The lines behind us were now quite short. Traffic in the vehicle CP was moving as usual. From the distance we could see that the lines at Atarot CP were very long, stretching beyond the horizon (as usual).
16:30: We returned to the pedestrian CP. Two passageways were open (4 and 5) but there were almost no people waiting in line.
17:00 We left Qalandiya to return to Jerusalem via Lil and Hizmeh CPs. At Lil there are now command booths on both sides of the road (both on the lane going East and on the lane going West), but the soldiers were not interfering with traffic and there were no lines. The approach to Hizmeh CP was very crowded but lines were moving slowly and the wait was not long.
The roads to Jerusalem's northern
neighborhoods were jammed with traffic but the Palestinian neighborhoods
themselves were shrouded in deep depression. There were almost
no people in the streets and in the stores. Natanya and I met
up in Jaffer's Conditory in Beit Hanina before setting out for Qalandiya.
Nabil warned us that he had heard there were problems in Qalandiya,
but Abed phoned and said he was drinking coffee in the parking lot there
and all was quiet.
We drove to Qalandiya via Atarot CP. A line of about 10 cars was
slowly wending its way through the CP. We saw no Palestinians
when passing by the A-Ram CP.
A soldier accompanied by a civilian security guard stopped our car in
the northward lane of the vehicle CP to warn us that there might be
some problems at Qalandiya and that we were proceeding north on our
own responsibility. A military Hummer was parked in the northern
square and a number of soldiers holding rifles were standing nearby.
Also in the square we saw one or two TV crews and a bunch of locals
viewing the spectacle.
Very few people were entering the CP
itself on their way to Jerusalem so there were no lines and passage
There were few cars, few pedestrians,
not many workers coming home and what I only realized
afterwards, the little boys and the one girl who must be about six who
are normally there selling their chewing gum were not there. The first
time I have seen that ever. The scene was surrealistic as it sometimes
is at these checkpoints. The parking lot and actual checkpoint were
quiet. In fact the checkpoint was almost abandoned. Where the circle
is, where the road starts going to Ramallah, soldiers were standing
with rifles and also a Palestinian TV crew with their cameras and various
Palestinian bystanders. A strange group to see standing together and
even more strange to see that the soldiers simply accepted this without
telling anyone to move off.
Phyllis and I crossed over the road trying to
get a better view and not get entangled in the barbed wire. On
a hill fairly far off we could see a largish group of teenage boys throwing
stones. Each time the soldiers would respond with rubber bullets and
tear gas which because of the strong wind floated back to us. Although
there was an ambulance standing near the group it seemed stationary
and it did not seem as if anyone had truly been hurt. We stayed about
an hour but there was nothing we could do except witness what I can
only describe as a childish standoff.
It made me think of Tom Sawyer, which I have just been reading in Arabic,
and the "gang" warfare. Stupid young boys playing a stupid
war game. That is if one did not know that the whole scene could change
in a minute and if one could forget what was happening in Gaza. I thought
to myself how pointless it all was. The stone throwers were not doing
any damage that we could see and the soldiers seemed to respond in a
pointless kind of ritual.
16:30: We left Qalandiya
at returned directly via Beit Hanina without visiting Lil and Hizmeh
We drove to Qalandiya via A Ram CP. We saw no detainees at the
CP. We continued along the Israeli side of the Wall to Atarot
CP. We took the road to Givat Ze'ev and passed 42 vehicles waiting
in line at Atarot. On our return we were vehicle number 50.
It took us 15 minutes to pass the CP. We continued to Qalandiya.
Two passageways were operating, one with a long line and the other one
empty. There was no line in the northern shed. We quickly
learned that one line was for blue ID holders and the other for green
IDs only. The line of Jerusalem residents was very long.
We phoned Mahdi who didn't answer, so we called Daniel who said he would
look into what was going on. Although he didn't call back,
procedures changed very quickly and blue ID holders were soon passing
through the CP on both lines.
We also went through and out to the vehicle
CP. There were no lines at Qalandiya but we could see in the distance
that the lines at Atarot CP had not grown any shorter.
16:00: Back in the pedestrian
CP, both passageways were working but the flow of people had increased
and at this hour about 20 were waiting in each passageway and another
20 were waiting at the carousel in the northern shed. After a
short time the number of people waiting decreased and the lines moved
16:30: We decided to look
into a report from last week concerning a surprise CP on the road to
Bir Naballah. On Monday afternoon the road to Bir Naballah was
free and there were no CPs on the road. We returned to Jerusalem
via Lil CP, where traffic was flowing, and Hizmeh CP, where the traffic
was backed up to the entrance to the village. There didn't seem
to be any particular reason for the traffic jam as soldiers were acting
Because it was still quite early, we
decided to pay our respects to the Kurd family who were sitting in a
mourning tent near their former home in the Sheikh Gerach neighborhood.
Many neighbors and children were visiting the mourning tent but "Um
Kamel" invited us to join her and told us what the settlers, with
the approval of Israel's justice system, had done to her and her family,
evicting them from their home and causing the death of her husband,
"Abu Kamel". It was very sad to see the suffering of
this noble woman and to hear once again about the injustice perpetrated
in our name.
were open for those leaving and the passage was relatively quick. There were
not a lot of pedestrians and few students.
from the private security company "Haari" and one soldier whose shouting out
over the loudspeaker saying what lane to go through it was not at all clear-- even for speakers of Arabic. Also, on the
way back, the loudspeaker was used in the vehicular crossing and was not at all