Qalandiya, Mon 29.10.12, Afternoon
Monday was the last day of the Id el Adha holiday. Not quite as busy as the end of Ramadan, still a lot of people had come to Qalandiya CP on their way to Jerusalem. On our arrival we met a distraught mother with two children, a girl of 12 and a boy of 10. She was distraught because the soldiers in Passageway 3 had refused to allow the kids through the CP even though she held a valid permit in her hand along with birth certificates for the two kids. As we approached her we were joined by one of the unemployed young men who spend their time “kibbitzing” at the CP entrance. He pointed out that an Israeli policeman, Ivan, was just coming to the post in the northern shed. All of us together called Ivan over and explained what the problem was. Ivan looked at the woman’s papers and concluded that there was no problem. On holidays, even big children are allowed through the CP just on the basis of birth certificates and without special permits. He promised to instruct the soldiers as to the rules and told the woman to get in line again in Passageway 3. Before going on his way, Ivan offered his opinion that the soldiers on duty deserved a special prize for the patience with which they were dealing with all the “backward villagers” who had come to Qalandiya during the holiday, people who didn’t even know how to use a turnstile!
What is true, is that the IDF does seem to have been better prepared to deal with large crowds during this holiday season. All the passageways were operating during our entire shift, and even Passageway 5 (which leads to the DCO offices) was serving people who were trying to go to Jerusalem. At no point was there a line in the northern shed (entrance to the CP). Later in the afternoon, the officer in charge of the CP came over to speak with us. He told us that the IDF was making an effort to improve efficiency of the CP and how they were keeping all the passageways open all day long. To be honest, we should also mention that even sanitary conditions were a bit improved. The piles of garbage had all disappeared and only the stench remained.