Qalandiya, Mon 22.10.12, Afternoon
Natanya G. and Phyllis W. (reporting)
We arrived in the southern square, the entrance to Qalandiya from Jerusalem, at 15:30 . Traffic in the square was at a standstill and it took us 10 minutes just to reach the parking lot. In the bus station adjacent to the square we saw a Jerusalem ambulance waiting for the ambulance from Ramallah bringing a patient to Jerusalem. The Ramallah ambulance was actually waiting in the vehicle CP, but was being delayed because the soldiers claimed there was no "coordination". (The claim seems a bit ridiculous in view of the fact that the "uncoordinated" Jerusalem ambulance was waiting there.) Natanya jumped out to see what was happening while I went to park. On the way I phoned the "Medical Coordination Hotline" (02/9977929). The female soldier who answered asked me to give her the name and I.D. number of the patient being transferred. She thought that there had been coordination. Unfortunately, before I could stop the Palestinian ambulance, the driver had turned around and driven off, waving me good-bye. This seems to beg the question of how Israeli soldiers work at the CP when they don't even know army telephone numbers that are available to MW staff.
When we finally entered the CP at 16:00, we found 2 active passageways with few people waiting on line. One man was waiting to enter the DCO offices in Passageway 5. Natanya offered to call the DCO and tell them he was waiting, but he asked us not to interfere as this might complicate his interaction with the soldiers. I noticed that there were 2 female soldiers in the aquarium between Passageways 2 and 3, one of them reclining in her chair arranging her hairdo. I called to them and they instructed me to come into Passageway 2. When I entered, I tried to explain to the "hair dresser" that I would like to tell those on line in Passageway 4 to go to Passageway 2, freeing up the soldiers in 4 to deal with the guy on line for the DCO (complicated?). The "hair dresser" went absolutely wild and started to scream at me, telling me that my sons were ashamed of my behavior, that I was a bored old woman with nothing to do but bother her and, in the end, she wished me a short life! For the life of me I can't understand what came over her and how she allowed herself to act the way she did. In the end she opened the turnstile allowing me to leave the passageway.
On my return to the northern (Palestinian) side of the CP, Natanya and I noticed a man standing in the DCO passageway. We approached and offered our assistance. It turned out that he was a merchant from Gaza who had arrived in Ramallah on Sunday with a permit to enter Israel that was valid until November 5. He wanted to return to Gaza on Monday, via Jerusalem, but the soldiers in Passageway 4 confiscated his permit and refused him entry to Jerusalem. I tried to talk to the DCO representative while Natanya enterprisingly called Hannah Barag. Without Hannah's help our friend would never have managed. Even with her help he was delayed until midnight before being allowed to continue on his way home. He reached Erez CP only at 02:00 at which time Hannah spoke with Civil Administration personnel who opened the CP and allowed him through. I just spoke with Habib who was happy to be home and thanked us all for the help given him.
Unfortunately, yesterday was not a boring day at the CP!