Qalandiya, Wed 4.4.12, Morning
Translation: Judith Green
We arrived at 05:30 and there were already long lines at the 3 gates. Suddenly, the door of one of the turnstiles opened, and about 30 people pushed their way through. The rest of the turnstiles were still closed. 10 minutes later another turnstile opened, but the others remained closed. That seemed to be the system - no one in line ever knew which door of which gate would open. Ronny Perlman contacted the DCO a few times until she finally managed to speak with someone working there. She explained the situation at the gates and, a few minutes later, all 3 doors opened at once. Meanwhile, a lot of people had piled up at the Humanitarian Gate; people with permits for appointments in hospitals in Jerusalem, students and sick people. The Humanitarian Gate was supposed to open at 6:00, but, at 6:10 it was still closed. We spoke with a soldier who had just started his assignment at Qalandiya and was totally inexperienced concerning the gate procedures. He brought a policeman who was responsible for the area.
The policeman was the real face of the occupation. He obviously enjoyed his job and relished the power accorded to his authority. He screamed at everyone who was standing either at the turnstiles or at the Humanitarian Gate. He asked those who were standing at the Humanitarian Gate not to go so close to the "wall" (the iron fence), not to smoke, and not to push (despite the fact that the people - the elderly, sick, children, students - had already been standing there patiently for 45 minutes). After he finally ordered them to open the gate, everyone was pushed around by the pressure of the long waiting time and the desperate need to enter before the policeman would again order the gate to be closed. He yelled, "Slowly, slowly!" and stopped several people in order to demonstrate his authority over their movements. Because of the crowding, he decided to punish the rest of the people in line, and refused to open the door again for another 10 minutes.
Ronny and I tried to speak with him, but he continued to ignore us. The thing that bothered, worried and annoyed us was his smile and joking at the expense of the "rats in the cage".
We left when all the pressure and tension was over at about 8:00. About 1000 people passed through the checkpoint between the hours of 5 and 8, but these were horrible hours and the words "humanitarian" or "human rights" certainly had no place this morning.