Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 18.9.11, Afternoon
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
Qalandiya checkpoint (photo: Behing the wall) :
Palestinian friends that witnessed the women's demonstration on the previous day said that during the time it was taking place, the checkpoint had been closed from both sides for two hours. They testified that cement bricks were brought ten days before hand, they were used to block the roads and had been carried from the side of the roads to their center a day in advance and the way leading to and from Ramallah was blocked up until Sunday.
Only two lanes were active at the pedestrian checkpoint. Suddenly, as though they had been given a green signal, the two had stopped operating and no one was allowed in the inspection area. The lines grew wider and longer. Not only that no explanation was given, but all the soldiers had disappeared and the post at the end of our lane (no. 2) remained empty. After a nerve wracking twenty minutes, and not before we called the operation room receptionist to asked whether the checkpoint was closed for passage, the checkpoint was activated again.
At the waiting shed at the entrance to the checkpoint we met to desperate women from Gaza: the young one was a woman who went through a medical procedure in her eyes at the hospital in Ramallah and the other was her escort (probably her mother). Their permits had expired on Saturday. The DCO in Gaza that had been handling their case over the phone allowed them to pass a day later. When they gave the inspecting soldier their original "Tasrih", he confiscated the document and banished them from the site. Had the inspector behind the shielded window checked these women's information on the computer (as they had asked him) he would have known that a new permit was waiting for them at the DCO. When we asked the soldiers agreed to check their ID numbers, but by then it was too late, the DCO offices had already closed and no one was to be found there.
The women were forced to return to Ramallah, rent a hotel room and return to the checkpoint on the next day.
Apart for a group of soldiers who had their rifles pointing at vehicles, a dog trainer and a dog with a muzzle on his mouth were also at the site. The checkpoint commander crossed the road towards us and in an instance started giving us his long speech, it was full of arguments against our presence and it start with: "you are endangering yourselves…", and continued with: "your presence is distracting my soldiers…", following this sentence came: "I don't like seeing you endangering soldiers….", and he even tried this one: "nothing is going on over here, it's a real bore!..."
We answered that we were going to stay and document, that we weren't concerned for our safety, that we had no intentions of talking to the soldiers and that we were not endangering them, and that we would overcome the boredom that he promised us.
He got back to the post and after several minutes the soldiers stopped a car, the driver got out of it, the muzzle was taken off the dog who sniffed the car from all sides, his trainer opened the doors and being so familiar with the job, he got inside, sat on the driver's seat and then wondered off to the rest of the seats, once he finished his task in a manner that satisfied his lady, he received signs of affection from her. Only then was the vehicle given back to its owner who was permitted to head on.