Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 21.2.10, Afternoon

Observers: 
Ronni Hamerman and Tamar Fleishman (reporting and taking photos)
Feb-21-2010
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Afternoon
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Qalandiya Checkpoint:

"Three men headed off at sunset..." just like the song "Oh, the red rock". Three soldiers from the Home Front Command- a driver (female) and two other soldiers- and got lost. They didn't reach the Edom mountains, they ended in a traffic jam around the entrance to Qalandya checkpoint across from the stores at front of the refugee camp.

They called for help and two BP soldiers set out looking for them: they looked here, they looked there, but couldn't find the lost group anywhere. The children that work as peddlers used they super vision and ability to evaluate whether a situation holds danger or chance, and hurried to help the rescue team and led them to the lost soldiers.

Long lines greeted those arriving at the checkpoint and the crowd of people standing inside the pens reached up until the waiting lot. The soldiers aren't the ones to decrease the amount of people at the checkpoint doing their work at full speed, but the yellow licensed cab drivers are the ones to decrease it. They park their cabs at the front of the checkpoint, offering to take the people in line through a bypassing road to Hizmee checkpoint-this road will take more time and cost more, but since Hizmee is a settlers'' checkpoint they are sure to arrive much faster to their destination. The authorities don't appreciate this initiative. They say the taxis block the rote at the parking lot and so the BP soldier send them off.

The way leading to the other side, the Jewish side, of the checkpoint took 40(!) minutes. Forty minutes which for us was ample time to get to know people and have a chat. This time we learned (from a Palestinian how lives overseas) of the difference between the checkpoints that are scattered across the West Bank. After surveying all of them he summed up: "The worst is at the container checkpoint". "What about Qalandiya?", we asked. "Qalandiya is the most insulting checkpoint!", he said as though he knew what was to come. A couple of minutes later he was blocked, he headed back, infuriated and humiliated. He didn't stop to talk to us. We assumed there was a problem with the visa in his passport, but any other assumption is as good as that one.

The boy who sells chewing-gum inside and around the checkpoint, squirmed through the locked turnstile using his tiny body, which doesn't give away his age, in a vertical position of an expert.

In spite of the pressure, the density and the annoyed people in front of her, the soldier inspecting our lane seemed to be in good spirit: she danced in front of those looking at her from the other side of bullet proof window.

The tower at the entrance to the vehicle checkpoint didn't shout as usual, but sang loudly and with a grating voice. Perhaps the soldier was trying to overcome the muezzin's singing.  

A young woman confronted some soldiers who had refused to allow her to pass. She yelled at them in English and showed them her papers, which she claimed proved she had the right to head on. An English speaking soldier was called for to translate, but this soldier wouldn't help the woman who after several minutes slammed the door of her car, made a u-turn and returned. We couldn't make out the details of this argument due to the noise and the distance.

 

The person selling coffee whose property had been confiscated by the municipal authorities, is made of the stuff that only survivors are made of. Trying to restore his life, he built an improvised construction made of wooden pieces and cardboard supporting each other. He stands there from dawn to dusk, offering a warm drink to those passing by.

He carries away this construction, which isn't a real cart and not even a real stand, each evening and takes it to a safe place in case someone steals "the poor man's lamb". 

Jaba Checkpoint:The restored coffee stand

A week earlier had promised us during the previous week that we could see and even copy the general's decree that forbids Jews from heading on through Adam square to Ar-Ram. But they had yet to get a permit from the brigade, which would allow us to see the document. - we explained to the soldiers what their obligations were and promised to return and claim our right.

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