'Anata, Qalandiya, Tue 15.11.11, Morning

Observers: 
Avital Toch, G. Dancy) guest from the U.S.), Ina Friedman (reporting)
Nov-15-2011
|
Morning

As soon as we arrived at the checkpoint at 6:15, we saw that a veteran and experienced Civil Administration officer who manages the checkpoint with professional care had returned to work after a hiatus of some three months. His presence was immediately felt. The Humanitarian Gate opened at 6:15 and thereafter each time a handful of people stood before it. All five checking stations were open by 6:15 and the pace of the flow through the three narrow, cage-like passageways leading to the three turnstiles was regular. Thus the lines did not extend beyond these passageways by 7:10, when we left the checkpoint. All of this shows that it is possible to avoid intolerable situations at Qalandiya when the checkpoint is run by a thoughtful officer who takes his work seriously and is concerned about its effect on the people who must pass through the checkpoint for lack of choice.

We arrived at the Anata checkpoint at 7:35 to the sight of hundreds of children boarding the buses that will take them to schools in other Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. There we learned from the head of the village council that the elaborate, new checkpoint is scheduled to open any day now. We walked over to it to see what we could see. It has five passages for vehicles but we could not enter the area of the checking stations for pedestrians to assess what awaits the 8,000 schoolchildren who will have to pass through the checkpoint each morning.

Anat T., who also arrived here with Navah E. to check out the situation, called the Civil Administration but did not get a clear reply as to the date on which the new checkpoint will open. Like the head of the village council, however, she understood that it will happen any day now. Therefore we must gear up to have a team cover this checkpoint, as well, especially to see whether it operates a humanitarian gate capable of accommodating 8,000 schoolchildren within less than an hour. It will also be helpful to assess whether Palestinians who are now going through Qalandia will be rerouted to this new checkpoint. Initially perhaps it will be sufficient for the Qalandiya teams to leave their watch there early enough to reach Anata by 7:15, so as to ascertain whether the latter checkpoint is operating properly. In the long run, however, the large number of schoolchildren who must pass through the Anata checkpoint will probably justify the assignment of full-time teams to Anata alone.