Habla, Tue 1.11.11, Morning
Upon our arrival we saw that the CP had been closed. A jeep packed with soldiers left quickly. People crowded on both sides of the CP.
The CP had indeed been opened at 06:15, but according the rumours there was some incident at the Eliyahu crossing or somewhere else, and as there was a lack of available manpower, the crew just closed the CP and set off.
We contacted the DCO and there they didn't know anything, and said they would find out. After another call we left the CP in the direction of the Eliyahu gate to see what the matter was.We didn't find anything, neither at the entrance to Kalkilya. We returned to Habla.
The CP remained closed for 20 long minutes. When it was reopened the level of irritability was high and in spite of this everything proceeded slowly. The soldiers didn't appreciate the importance of the fact that the waiting period was prolonged.
The two buses with children arrived and were forced to wait a quarter of an hour, only because the representative of the military police didn't enable their entrance as expected. In the meantime the queue of the incoming persons proceeded slowly, nervously and accompanied by shouting. The woman soldier inside too screamed rudely at the incoming persons, and she could be heard very well from where we stood at the gate.
After we called the DCO and Tadessa (???) and made it clear to the soldiers that the buses had to arrive on time for school they were at last checked (very meticulously) and could pass. We were able to note that communications on the radio arrived for the commander after our intervention.
People pressed on the gate and quarrelled. A few vehicles as well as a donkey and then a horse hitched to a cart drew the attention of the soldiers. At the same time pedestrians were detained for a long time. The soldiers who were near the gate on the Israeli side were busy with their own affairs (they ate, talked and even smeared their neck with sun tan lotion. According to them they are not authorized to comply with the demands of those waiting on this side, but they also didn't initiate any appeal to the Military Policemen or to their commander , although they noticed the people waiting on this side).
One single man and a van loaded with plants were waiting for a long time on the Israeli side. He repeatedly mumbled, but none of the soldiers paid any attention to him. The representative of the military policy was during this time busy educating the people in the queue, and made a person go back to the end of the queue for further waiting as a punishment. We again interfered. Half and hour later he was allowed to pass. The van had been waiting all in all for three quarters of an hour. During all this time we didn't stop trying to obtain help through the DCO.
T. the officer responsible for the crossings contacted us and we explained to him how things stood. In a conference call which he held we heard him transferring the details to the company commander. It was promised that he would arrive. In the end he didn't arrive, but he must have briefed his soldiers, as suddenly there was an improvement.
In the end they began speeding the crossing up. Two women and a crying child, who were awaited on the other side by a man who had to wait for a considerable time and begged that they should be allowed to cross, were made to enter while the child was crying…
There were still people waiting behind the Palestinian gate, but the traffic flowed. Now we allowed ourselves to call the commander and asked him to advise the screaming girl soldier inside that she should show respect to the crossing people and stop humiliating them . He complied and there was silence.
We left when the last of the waiting people were about to enter. We continued on a not too long route to the Eliyahu Crossing and to the Qalqilya Crossing. The traffic flowed and we didn't meet with any problems.
To sum up: This was a bad day at Habla, which reminded us of difficult days in the past.