Ar-Ram, Hizma, Jaba (Lil), Tue 4.8.09, Afternoon
We formed the afternoon shift at Qalandiya and Atara, but there was not much to report. There were almost no people at the Qalandiya CP and at Atara traffic was flowing undisturbed (with no soldiers to be seen). However, when you think about it, the lack of anything to report is itself newsworthy material: fewer people are coming to the CP because they cannot get through to Jerusalem. Even in the morning, we were told, the lines of people going to work in Israel have shrunk considerably. Israel is not issuing the necessary permits, drying the flow of Palestinians who would like to cross the border in order to make a living but cannot.
15:30: Atarot CP: There was no line of cars at Atarot.
15:45: Qalandiya: There were almost no pedestrians in the CP. Passage was rapid and two passageways were in operation until we left the CP at 16:45. At 16:30 we passed through the CP to the vehicle section. A Transit vehicle was parked in the area where the buses pick up their passengers, with a leather armchair standing next to it. Two young men with blue ID cards were waiting for a soldier to come and examine the chair and give them permission to transport it to Jerusalem. The driver complained about the length of the wait and then the soldier turned around and promised that she would be with him in only two minutes. She kept her promise, attended by a security guard, examining the chair from every angle she finally allowed the two men to take their chair home to Jerusalem. On returning to the Palestinian side of the CP we saw that the biometric ID machines were all out of order so no one could record his passage.
16:45: From Qalandiya we went to see the grafitti on the A-Ram side of the separation Wall. We were rewarded with the longest grafitti message in the world, a message from South Africa expressing solidarity with their Palestinian brothers.
From A-Ram we drove through Lil CP (no lines) to Atara. The CP was not manned and the traffic was flowing undisturbed. We saw no soldiers in the pillbox however Tamar told us that if the "street lights" were burning (and they were) that was a sign that the pillbox was manned. So apparently there are still soldiers stationed at Atara.
From Atara we returned to Jerusalem via Hizmeh CP. Traffic there was moving slowly but uninterruptedly.