Qalandiya CP Monday afternoon, 13.6.2011

Phyllis (reporting)

On our way to the checkpoint we were delayed by a traffic jam in the southern square for about 10 minutes.  On our arrival at the CP, at 3:50 PM, we saw an ambulance standing in the middle of the northern square and so we went over to ask what was happening.  The driver told us he was delivering a 17-day old babyinfo-icon from Genin to Muqassad Hospital (Jerusalem), but the soldiers were not allowing him to pass.  It turned out that the ambulance from Jerusalem, which would actually deliver the infant, had not yet arrived.  He appeared 5 minutes later and then the ambulance from Genin entered the vehicle CP.  Once again he was not allowed through because the soldiers claimed that the transfer had not been "coordinated".  Once again the driver returned to his post in the northern square and began a series of frenzied phone calls to the hospital, which insisted that there had been "coordination".  There is no life without "coordination", even if it costs poor little Toulon Abed El Salah, all of 17 days old, the ultimate sacrifice!  We didn't know what to do but in the end decided to call the "Hamal" (headquarters) in the hope that they would help.  And it worked!  A nice polite (female) soldier answered the phone and promised to investigate what was happening and she kept her promise!  When we impatiently called her again 5 minutes later she told us that she was putting the final touches on the arrangements.  The ambulance from Genin was finally allowed through the CP and into the parking lot at 4:15 PM, and the baby, accompanied by his mother, was transferred to the Jerusalem ambulance.  They left for the hospital at 4:20 and immediately got trapped in the traffic jam mentioned above, but managed to extricate themselves pretty quickly.

In the midst of the story above, a military police vehicle parked itself in the northern square about one yard from the waiting ambulance.  The youngsters in nearby Qalandiya Refugee Camp could not forego the opportunity to throw stones at the MPs who were standing, weapons at the ready, waiting to join any fray.  It was really frightening to think what would happen if a shower of stones fell on the ambulance and if the soldiers started shooting tear gas grenades in response.  Luckily, things quieted down and the soldiers moved their vehicle out of the line of fire and into the adjacent parking lot.  The shower of stones ended.

There were not too many people arriving at the CP all afternoon, but the two active passageways were quite full (ca. 40 people in each).  The DCO offices were closed at 4 PM and all who showed up later were turned away.  (The signs indicating working hours have been changed to show that the DCO closes at 4 PM.)  There were no lines all afternoon in the western CP for bus passengers, but the line of vehicles approaching the CP from Ramallah stretched back all the way up the hill for at least 500 meters or more.