Qalandiya, Mon 12.12.11, Afternoon

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Natanya G. and Phyllis W. (reporting)

As we drove into the checkpoint at 3:40 PM we saw an ambulance in the southern bus parking lot.  Natanya alighted to see what was happening and I went on through the CP to park the car.  Natanya remained on the Israeli side of the CP.   She reported as follows:
“I stayed on the Israeli side where the driver told me that the driver of the Palestinian ambulance had the necessary papers but had been refused passage through the checkpoint.  Another ambulance arrived while I was waiting. The driver told me that the day before (Sunday) he had come to the checkpoint with a seriously ill patient and, after a long wait when he got to the actual checkpoint, he was stuck behind another car which was being carefully checked while his ambulance had been checked by another soldier and cleared to pass. But of course he could not. He asked the first soldier to move the car so that he could go through. The soldier took offense and asked if he was trying to tell him how to carry out his duties. Then one of the private security guards came along and opened up another gate for him to go through. But when he started doing so the first soldier shouted at him and asked what he thought he was doing. He explained but it did not help. He was told that he had to wait to be checked and when this first soldier eventually got round to him the soldier said to him , "Do you have a real patient in the car." Eventually he got through.”
Meanwhile, on the Palestinian side of the CP a Palestinian ambulance was waiting at the edge of the northern square. Inside was a woman from Gaza suffering from cancer.  The woman, who was hospitalized in Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, had been taken
for radiation therapy to Ramallah and was now being returned to Jerusalem.  The driver said that he had been waiting in the square for 1.5 hours because the soldiers insisted that there had been no coordination with the Israeli authorities.  But the driver maintained that there had been coordination and that he never would have set out with the patient without coordination.
At 4:10 PM a second ambulance drove into the square and proceeded directly into the CP.  We thought that he too would be turned back, but no, after a short examination he was allowed through.  I called headquarters for the third time to ask that they facilitate passage of the ambulance and the soldier on duty, Paz who was unfailingly polite, said that he was trying his best.  He made no mention of any lack of coordination.  Giving up on headquarters, I phoned the Unit at Qalandiya responsible for the passageways.  The female soldier on duty answered that she was in the midst of dealing with the problem and would shortly allow the ambulance through.  The ambulance was finally called into the CP at 4:15 and, after a 10 minute examination, proceeded to the bus parking lot where the woman was transferred to the Jerusalem transport.

Natanya and I finally made it to the CP at about 4:30.  We saw that there were two active passageways that were full of people waiting on line.  There was a line of over 30 people waiting in the northern shed where the soldier on duty was operating the carousel manually.  The lines were moving very slowly. We phoned headquarters again to ask them to open a third passageway and were told that this would happen at 5 PM when the shifts change.  There was not much we could do.   We left Qalandiya a little after 5 to return to Jerusalem.