Qalandiya, Thu 12.11.09, Morning
We arrived at Qalandiya at 5.30. The line was short and passed quickly. The main difference was that the "cages" were empty and that the people stood inside the checking area in line. This procedure influence the tension of those waiting. All the checking booths were open and the passage took 20 minutes. We heard from passers by that the last two days have seen an improvement. But all the same it is possible to understand the anger which has been built up at having to pass through these area each day.
Many children arrive at the checkpoint before 7.00 when the checkpoint opens. The smaller ones with their heavy bags are forced to stand pressed in line between the adults who are hurrying to work and are not open to allowing them a place to stand. When the humanitarian line opens at 6.50 there was a rush especially amongst the pupils.
While we were standing next to the humanitarian line a woman of about 30 stood next to us and in good Hebrew complained that because of the procedures at the checkpoint she had no chance of getting to work on time. Most days she goes through in her car but today because of some unexplained reason she had changed her usual procedure. She said that she worked at the American consulate in East Jerusalem and worked in Ramallah. A minute or two later the "humanitarian" gate opened and we heard shouts and saw some of the schoolchildren who had gone through standing where they were and looking at an unusual sight. Another minutes or two ( photo enclosed) we saw the woman handcuffed and a policeman dragging/pulling/pushing her very violently. The woman seemed to be in complete shock. We immediately phoned the emergency number of the American consulate to tell them what had happened. We spoke to the district administrator of the Jerusalem envelope and asked him to intervene.
After some time he phoned us and asked us to explain what we had seen. At 9.30 we phoned the American Consulate to find out what was happening to the woman and they refused to give us a reply and said that the matter had been turned over to the security officer of the consulate.
When we left at 8.00 there was no queue. According to the Ecumenical workers whose numbers are not always accurate we were told that 2500 people had gone through.
While writing this report the security officer of the American Embassy phoned to ask what we had seen and we can only hope that the matter was speedily brought to a close.