Qalandiya, February 2, 2011, afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
17:00 Huge traffic jams at both plazas (the southern one – even though vehicles going north aren’t being inspected the traffic arrangements don’t permit a free flow, and at the northern one, where the line of cars stretches all the way to the Qalandiya refugee camp).
We intended to return to Jerusalem and entered the new pedestrian lane restricted to Jerusalemites. The fenced pedestrian corridor begins at the northern plaza but pedestrians aren’t allowed to enter it at the plaza; they have to ride about five meters in a taxi to an opening of the pedestrian lane which brings them to the revolving gate in front of the inspection area. It costs NIS 2 – NIS 6 to ride these 5 meters if you haven’t already arrived by taxi from somewhere else. Someone arriving on their own at the northern plaza who wants to go through the checkpoint for Jerusalem residents will have to pay to enter the checkpoint (Who’s making money from this? Why this strange policy?)
We moved toward the line. A soldier turned to us – “Get out of here, it’s not for you, go to the main checkpoint.” He saw us writing and angrily yelled, “Write whatever you want on your website.” Then he repeated “Code 42” a few times into his speaker phone. Suddenly (maybe it was connected, maybe not), for some unknown reason, the revolving gate leading into the inspection area opened and didn’t stop, as usual, trapping the third person going through. Everyone on line was able to go through. Dozens of people entered the waiting area to put their belongings through the magnemometer.
Then the soldiers began yelling at people to go back where they’d come from, to the other side of the revolving gate. The gate won’t open until the dozens of people who crowded in go back to where they were.
A policeman said: People know they’re supposed to go through in threes, not all at once. That’s no way to behave – a complete lack of self-control. We explained to the policeman that the checkpoint operators were the ones who opened it and let everyone in. The policeman insisted – everyone should know that only three people at a time go through the revolving gate. The soldiers forced them all to go out and made most of them run to the older, main checkpoint located dozens of meters away, intended for people who aren’t residents of Jerusalem. There they were forced to wait on a new line.
People wasted more than an hour in the freezing cold. This needless harassment was due to the soldiers. They caused all the confusion; they were the ones punishing people who wanted only to get home after working or going to school, accusing them of lacking self-control.