Qalandiya, Mon 7.12.09, Afternoon
15:20: Atarot: There was no line at the CP.
15:30: Qalandiya: There were not many people at the CP when we arrived. Three passageways were operating (2, 3 and 4). As far as we could see, there was no one in the DCO shed. The soldier on duty in the booth in the northern shed seemed to be reading and not paying any attention to his surroundings. Although the lines in the passageways were very short, he was not letting people into the CP but kept them penned in the cage leading from the northern shed. We shouted to gain his attention and only then did he open the carousel.
Shortly after we entered the CP, a young man from Gaza, Mahmoud, came in on his way to the DCO to pick up a permit. He had 7 or 8 valises and packages. He told us that he had come for an eye operation and was now on his way home where he was to be married in four days. His packages were full of presents for his bride and his relatives. He had no problem getting into the DCO, they even opened the gate allowing him to move all his bags more easily.
16:00: Natanya and I got on line to go through the CP in Passageway 4. Just as we reached the carousel, the 2 female soldiers on duty announced that the line was closed and with smiling faces walked out of their post. The people behind us on line heaved a huge collective sigh of disgust and raced off to find another line. We followed behind. (We recognized the blond soldier from previous weeks and suspect that she closed the line to punish Natanya and myself for annoying her, along with all the Palestinians behind us.) After several minutes the two soldiers returned to smoke in their aquarium, but the passageway remained closed leaving only 2 active sleeves.
16:10: Passageway 4 re-opens. Mahmoud from Gaza emerged from the DCO with a permit for Erez CP, the entrance to Gaza. Before getting on line he phoned the Palestinian DCO in Gaza and they told him that Erez was closed. Natanya called Hannah Barag who investigated and found out that, due to the weather, there was temporarily no electricity and that was the reason for the closure. Hannah suggested that the young man wait a while and perhaps the electricity would return, which it did at about 5 PM. One of the soldiers in the DCO called to tell us that Mahmoud had to reach Erez by 7 PM. We all got through the CP at 5:10 and then waited until 5:35 PM for a taxi to take him to Erez, leaving him less than 1.5 hours to make the journey in pouring rain.
17:37: Back in the northern shed, the lines were still short and the carousel was open. Passageways 2 and 3 were active.
17:45: We left Qalandiya to return to Jerusalem. There were no lines at Lil or at Hizmeh CPs.
The happy ending: Mahmoud reached Erez at 7:15 but was allowed through and got home by 8 in the evening