Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Fri 18.9.09, Morning
We arrived just as people started streaming in. The parking lot was full of buses waiting to take the people to prayers.
There was a whole set up ready to make the crossing easier- 2 sets of entrances on the way to the final check inside the terminal.
It was very obvious that the personnel was not only instructed to treat the people politely but even were OK with it. Unless- and that was the problem.
A new rule that the Palestinians didn't know about was enforced- people with valid prayer permits (until Sept 21) - i.e. women between the ages 30-45 and men 30-50 were denied entry today. And there was a lot of argument about that. With all the instructions the soldiers had no patience for these undisciplined people.
For example a man who will be 50 in 3 weeks time- no way. We met a woman who was 44 and a half and we asked whether there was anyone around with authority to use there own judgment- one volunteered and we accompanied her to the point where the police checked the IDs and we understood very quickly that this was the only "success" for the day for these naive misguided women - i.e. the two of us.
At the first entrance the crowd of people who could not go through grew and grew and we were amazed at the quiet scene- what if there were 5000 people denied entry standing there?
On our way out we had our "chance" to be reminded - there was a woman soldier (MP),chewing gum or maybe 3 chewing gums and just screamed at the people and we and the older people- remember women over 45 and men over 50 were watching this animal like creature and wondering what makes her so wild?
She was reminding every person that the tray which contained the things that went through the machine had to be returned!!!!
A gallant partner defended her by threatening us with arrest if we say one more thing and don't disappear. We did and called the Humanitarian army section and spoke to the officers outside. and left knowing that if no one is there the scene is not always peaceful as the instructions go.
There will always be someone who will "lose" it for some reason or other. this time it was the determination to have the Palestinians return the trays after going thru the machine!