'Atarot, Hizma, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 17.1.10, Afternoon
"One person's troubles are another person's good fortune..." - a free translation of an Arab saying that the cab drivers recite each time there is a line at the checkpoint; These drives, who have yellow plats, are allowed into Jerusalem, arrive with a long line of transit cars yelling: "Al-Quds!!!... Al-Quds!!!". For ten Shekels they drive all those who weren't lucky enough to have a resident ID to Hizme in a long line of transits.
They also asked, perhaps in humor, that we won't get in their way while they make their living, by hurrying the soldiers with their inspections, because when there are many people at the checkpoint- their profits rise.
- After fifteen minutes of waiting to enter the inspection zone, a voice from above announced that all those with blue IDs must move to another line. Those who were first in line were now the last, and they started a new recount of the waiting time among the mass of people.
The metal detector was especially sensitive and beeped without any regard to what passed under it; It shrilled when a group of young women/girls passed under it with a baby in their hands. They took their coats off, their jewelry off and their shoes off- they machine kept beeping. When they dared to giggle with embarrassment one at the other, the soldier at the load speaker spoke out: "Is something amusing you?" and the group was taken to a different line.
- A 40 year old man that wasn't permitted to pass was left resentful and frustrated.
For over ten years he had been living with his family (his wife and their five children) at Atarot; they have a temporal "family reunion" permit that had been renewed every once in a while in the routine procedure. Lately, the authorities refused to renew this permit thus destroying his daily routine. Ever since he had been trying to pass through Qalandya checkpoint on his way home, which is only a few minutes walk from there. He is usually sent back. It is only by chance that he gets to pass: "The women soldiers are the worse, the male ones aren't as bad", he said. He told us that a couple of days before a woman soldier that wouldn't let him pass added insult to injury and said: "Go to god, he is the only one that's going to renew your permit!".
-By the separation wall that is southern to the new wing that is about to open, a road is being paved.
A commanding officer that remembered us (http://www.machsomwatch.org/en/reports/checkpoints/07/01/2010/afternoon/13453) crossed the road to greet us, as though we were old acquaintances. This time, even though he recited the same text regarding the necessity of this (redundant) checkpoint, he wanted to listen as well as talk. It was a unique occasion in which real conversation was held, and not just two uncommunicative monologs. What we learned from him was: "I make sure that the people in my team won't abuse the Palestinians, I know there are also other kinds of soldiers, the kind that takes a dump in pots as they search a house. Those aren't my men. It's very important for me that they treat human beings as human beings."
What did he learn from us? What did he take from our conversation? - We can't say.
A soldier from the passages unit stopped us and said that what was written on our site (http://www.machsomwatch.org/en/reports/checkpoints/31/12/2009/afternoon/13376) wasn't accurate: The child who was mentioned in the report didn't have his birth certificate, but the soldiers assumed he was older then what he told them, and therefore he had to wait until his father arrived with the documents to verify his story.
When we asked him why they had detained the guy that had bough gas containers at the West Bank, and why they had confiscated the eggs he had bough a week earlier, he replied: There is always a chance that there might be an explosive substance inside the container. As for the eggs: since he didn't have a permit from the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture for them, they might have been infected and therefore highly dangers.
So here we are correcting our mistake, and the soldier's claims here are in his words.
But the question remains unanswered: Is the passage unit in charge for the health of the public or is it only in charge of its security?