'Atarot, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 24.1.10, Afternoon
According to the paper this checkpoint is about to be taken down. But as it usually goes in the occupation, there can be no vacuum, and the checkpoint is merely going to be rebuilt by Ofer base, that is if they carry out the decision made by the High Court of Justice and road 443 will be open for Palestinian drivers.
Until then the checkpoint will continue to be manned by BP soldiers, who detain those driving on road 443 from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem and Ramala.
A chain of spikes tied to a rope was placed in front of the soldiers' post, ready for they to spread it at any moment.
Those manning the post had also read the article. They asked that we take a picture of them in front of the checkpoint and put it on our Facebook site.
It was very cold at Qalandya checkpoint. The chill, the faint light, the polluted air and the strong wind which carried grains of dust that entered our eyes and made it hard to see, added to the depressing atmosphere hovering there. The owners of the stands at the entrance to the checkpoint were troubled: "There are a lot of police men at the checkpoint", they said, fearing that those officers might hold another raid on their few possessions.
The people the peddlers had thought were police men turned out to be eight-teen new recruits of the civil security unit, who were patrolling the checkpoint and getting instructions from the more experienced security men.
There is no doubt that the security men's uniforms were intended to look like the police men's uniforms.
The metal detector (at lane number 4) was over sensitive again. This time it was I who was its victim. Even though I didn't have a shred of metal on me, the beeping wouldn't stop. After trying to pass under it again and again... and after the Palestinians who had remained at the other side of the fence giving me all sorts of advice: "maybe it's from you bra... maybe it's you watch... maybe you should take off your shoes...."- and all for nothing, I was taken into the inner room (an order I got from the loud speaker), the door led me to another room- perhaps a cubical - which was further inside the place, it had a bullet proof window, which was looking upon the soldier's post. The loud speaker let me know that the police officer would soon arrive and deal with me. Many minutes passed, but the officer didn't show up. Then the woman soldier remembered that a male police officer couldn't perform a physical inspection on a woman (apparently they don't have many female officers), and I was forced to reveal the upper part of my body to the soldier at the other side of the window. Only once they were convinced that I wasn't carrying any explosives on me, I was permitted to pass to the other side of the checkpoint, and the Palestinians were able to continue and attempt to pass through the checkpoint.
I think that as an Israeli who is protected from the harassments and abuse, having been born at the right tribe and having the "right" look and accent, this event might be seen silly and absurd. But I can never avoid thinking what a Palestinian woman or girl must go through, when she is taken into the solitary room and stand in front of the hostile eyes and voices of strangers, only because the metal detector had been out of order for several weeks.
Three soldiers hurried with joy to greet us, they didn't want to argue but just to talk. We learned that:
"We like it here at the checkpoint, we get to know a lot of Arabs and become friends with them while we detain them, we get to learn a lot about their culture, about Ramalla- there are plenty of nice restaurants over there, and even an amusement park..."
All and all: "It's every soldier's dream to visit Ramalla...."
We also heard that: on Friday an explosive baggage was thrown at Qalandya, that in order to head on that road, there are some Jews that pretend to be Arabs and start talking with an Arab accent, which is very dangerous. As proof they told us that a military vehicle was stoned over there a week earlier, after all "the Palestinians are hardly saints"- they said (who is?), after soldiers were lynched at Ramalla at 2004.
We also taught them something (and they really were interested), we gave them a lesson in geography regarding the area surrounding them- where the Israeli zone ended, about the different areas: A, B, C and the differences between them, that from our experience we have learned that it's only dangerous for people in uniforms to head on the road to Qalandya, which is forbidden to us.