Qalandiya, Mon 16.11.09, Morning
. A horrible morning. Horrible and awful. All the suffering that this checkpoint causes to so many people is concentrated in this morning. Words, books, the theatre, reports, films, photos, articles, lectures, supplications, meetings and discussions can not express the suffering of the people between these iron fences. The narrow, frightening cages which lead to the iron gates, iron gates which after a second are blocked and the freezing cold eyes of the guards opposite the eyes of children, old people and the sick.
The iron gate which turns for children, women and the old and behind it another iron gate because here we have an especially dangerous population and therefore they have to be tortured by two gates near to one another before they go into the route which is carefully fenced on the way to the sleeves where they are checked. A very old and heavy man walks with stick and his wife holds his arm so that he should not fall. Twice he tries to make his way through the three pronged narrow gate which turns while his wife is afraid to let go his arm and behind her the line is nervous and the young pupils jump in front of all and mothers and small children who are trampled under the feet. According to the veteran workers who know this from their own experiences the person who is responsible for this daily passage and the long lines is a policeman. Today he is the one who makes the most difficulties. When he is on duty there is an instant recipe for hours of waiting.
This is the story of the morning.
Netta arrived at 6.00 and I at 6.20 and the small children with their school bags are already hurrying between the cars. The lines stretch nearly to the parking lot. Many people are sitting and waiting on the benches for this terrible pressure to ease up and give them a chance to get to work without being hurt or having ribs broken. Young people tell of broken arms and legs. And the gates only every ten minutes or so and then for a few seconds. Inside the sleeves empty out, but the iron gates do not open opposite the pressure, the pain and the anger.
Just now it will be 7.00, the hour of the beginning of the work day. People who arrived at 5.00 are still waiting.
We make many calls to the centre and the commander of the Jerusalem envelope. Did these calls help? When we left (at About 7.00) there were still many people in the shed.
Netta asked the soldiers repeatedly to check the sleeves which were emptying and to open the gates.
7.10 The gates open for the fourth time only and the policeman looks very satisfied. He is wide and sturdy and with a shaved head. One cannot see his name on his bullet proof vest. Surrounded by army captains with their weapons drawn and at the ready and maybe prepared to listen and to check permits and to speak to the sick but the one in power says no.
7.11 A surprise. A veteran policeman arrives and while still putting on a bullet proof vest IMMEDIATELY opens the gates. Now those who have been sitting on the benches and have been waiting since 5am join the lines. The line reaches the parking lot.
The iron gates could definitely be opened more often. The people could definitely be dealt with quicker and if there was any good will the daily suffering could be lessened and peo0le allowed to get to work, to the schools and to the hospitals. But all the clerks and the brigade commanders leave the well being of 1000s of people to one police man, capricious and unhelpful.
7.20 The line is at a standstill, 100s wait in complete silence.
An old man in a wheelchair arrives and is let through without standing in line. A mother with a baby on the way to hospital and an old father led by his worried elderly son arrives.
7.22 The gates open for the workers and two minutes later open again and then they open every few minutes. But the line outside is still long, reaching out of the shed.
Netta keeps shouting that the sleeves are empty and that the lines in the shed are unending. But the system remains the same.
The silence of acceptance reigns at the hour of 8.00. Most of those waiting had to be at work an hour ago. There are conversations in the line of women and children as to who arrived first, who is hurrying to work at the factory or in building or who is a teacher or a pupil or a doctor. There is also no answer to those who are on the side. But the question why they are not treated as human beings is a sad question asked over and over again.
The gate of the women, children, old and sick which for some reason is called "humanitarian" was opened early today. Most of the time 10s of people wait next to it and the inside is packed. Between 7.00 - 7.45 I counted at least 40 - 80 people waiting the whole time. At 7.45 it was completely empty and by 8.30 there was another long line there longer than all the other lines. When I accompanied two small children and their father to the special gate old people whose legs were giving in stood around me , small children and the same slightly bigger children who had already missed their first lesson. Twice one had to fight for their place at the two gates so as to prevent the children being hurt, shoulders and hands, and to make place for the old who walked so slowly. The sleeve for checking the women and children was full while the other sleeves were half empty. Some time after 9.00 we left and the shed was still full of those waiting pepole. . It is concerned of course with queues of customers at banks and municipalities and clinics and other places which have air conditioning and heating.
....Maybe the Minister of Defence should check out the lines at Qalandiya?? especially on Monday.
The reports of shifts and Monday in the morning in the last months.
This morning was a catastrophe. 100s of people pushing, climbing on to one another's backs. Fistfights between those waiting in line. Shouts. Curses and all this while the line moves but moves slowly. Only when enough people are gathered at the gate does it open.
And in August Judy and Noah report a terrible morning when a mother and her son who was going to kidney treatment were separated by a specially violent group of people waiting. The mother outside with no possibility of getting to the boy who stood alone and frightened. The calm soldier arrived after and hour and a half and demanded of the child to go outside to his mother and only because of phone calls to the centre was a gate opened and the mother allowed to get to her child.
In this report I found the sentence which characterizes the procedures of this policeman and any other words are unnecessary:
Only after he feels that enough people stand at the gate does he open it again.