Qalandiya, Mon 27.6.11, Afternoon
Qalandiya, 15:50: As we arrived at the CP we first noted a Jerusalem ambulance waiting in the southern square and then its Palestinian counterpart parked in the center of the northern square. When we asked the Palestinian driver what was happening, he told us that the soldiers were claiming there was no "coordination" (but the driver said he had started out only on receiving coordination confirmation). We phoned headquarters and spoke with Karin who was polite and business-like. We gave her the name of the middle-aged woman in the ambulance who was returning to Gaza after being treated in Jordan and had permits for herself, and for the person accompanying her, to travel to Gaza on June 27. Karin promised to check-up on matters and within 5 minutes the ambulance was instructed over the PA system to proceed into the CP. This begs the question, perhaps the soldiers manning the CP don't have the telephone number of headquarters? If they did, they might be able to deal with matters by themselves and not have to wait until MW teams arrive to do their work for them.
We entered the CP at 4 PM. The flow of pedestrians was pretty weak, but despite that there was a line of eleven waiting before the turnstile in the northern shed and both active passageways were full. If they progressed at all, the lines were moving at a glacial pace (and not a glacier in the full June sunlight of the Mediterranean). We phoned Karin again to report on conditions and later to the Passageway Unit. Everyone promised to take care of things, but nothing happened. We got in line in Passageway 3 and spoke with the people around us. (One young man told us that Saturday afternoons were particularly difficult at Qalandiya because very few soldiers are on duty. He said that people can wait on line for hour
It took us 25 minutes to get through the CP. The two soldiers sitting in the "aquarium" in the passageway were not particularly hostile, but they were not very efficient either. They told us that their orders were to let three people at a time into the passageway and it sounded as if they understood this to mean that there was no need to exert themselves and keep the lines flowing. Perhaps things might improve if their commanders explained to the soldiers that they are "serving the public" and are expected to behave accordingly.
In spite of being forewarned, we decided to call Shmulik, the police officer responsible for the passageways at Qalandiya, when we emerged from the CP. When we described to him what was going on, he yelled at us in response that a 25 minute wait on line at Qalandiya in the afternoon was completely reasonable and that a crowd of 100 waiting on line was not to be considered a crowd.
However, when we returned to the northern entrance to the CP at 5 PM we saw that another passageway had been opened and the lines had shrunk considerably. There was no line at all in the northern shed.