Qalandiya, Tue 30.10.12, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
Qalandiya – 06:00
The vehicle checkpoint is crowded with vehicles coming from Ramallah.
The line at the checkpoint itself overflows into the parking lot – about 300 men. All five inspection booths are open, about 15 people on each line. The humanitarian gate is still closed; women stand in the regular line.
The Scottish ecumenical volunteer tells us her companion entered the line at 05:35 and reached the other side after inspection 40 minutes later. Shift changes always briefly interrupt the crossing. Meanwhile, a crowd has formed at the humanitarian gate. Ina telephones the humanitarian office. Maybe no one has the key? Maybe there’s no security guard?
The soldier checks documents of a number of youths who don’t appear eligible to use the humanitarian crossing.
Qalandiya – 06:30
During the past half hour 230 people entered inspection. The humanitarian gate hasn’t opened.
The lines have grown shorter, about 150 waiting, and another 50 now cross when the humanitarian gate opens.
Qalandiya – 07:00
During the past half hour 270 people entered inspection, 115 of them through the humanitarian gate.
The soldier responsible for opening the humanitarian gate has left. The humanitarian office told us “he’ll be back.” But the people waiting, who’d given up, moved to the regular line which was again long and congested. The soldier did return ten minutes later, carrying a cup of coffee. The problem wasn’t the coffee, but the timing. Now, when the schoolchildren fill the checkpoint, is when he should be here.
Where’s the soldier who was in charge of opening the humanitarian gate last week, who was very considerate of people’s needs?
The congestion on the regular line lessened again after the pupils and women went back to the humanitarian gate.
Qalandiya – 07:20
During the past 20 minutes 200 people entered inspection, only 40 of them through the humanitarian gate.
All in all, it was a relatively easy day, there’s almost no line and there’s only slight congestion at the inspection booths.
Qalandiya – 07:30
The vehicle crossing – the line of cars is very short; we reached the inspection station in five minutes.
The soldiers who received our ID cards asked whether we were “Machsom Watch,” and went to report by phone. After inspecting the car’s trunk, glove compartment, our handbags and our documents, we’re still not allowed to cross.
We received the definite impression that the true purpose of the continued delay, after the comprehensive inspection we’d undergone, was to harass us.
The soldiers said that we’d come from Ramallah, that we’re not allowed to leave the vehicle in the checkpoint parking lot which is a “Red area,” etc. We’d reached a dead end, and ask Chana Barg for help. She sends a policeman to us.
When the policeman asks the soldiers what’s the problem, they tell him “we refused to be inspected.”
We stress to the policeman that we’d undergone a comprehensive and rigorous inspection and didn’t refuse any of the soldiers’ requests. And in fact, the soldiers are forced to admit that we hadn’t “refused to be inspected,” but that they want to conduct an additional inspection, even more thoroughgoing.
When the policeman asks what else they want to check they don’t know what to reply; he releases us immediately. That unnecessary incident lasted half an hour, but we learned a few things.
1. The unbearable ease with which the soldiers lied to the policeman, when they told him “we refused to be inspected,” ignites a red light. If a culture of falsehood infiltrates the IDF (the soldiers were MP’s) at the level of harassing two Israeli women from Machsom Watch, imagine what will happen here if the IDF will have to deal with a really serious situation.
2. Apparently the IDF introduced new terminology in its division into “red” and “blue” areas. Soldiers used to refer to areas called A or B. Today they also characterize the northern side of the Qalandiya checkpoint as “red,” including the parking lot, despite the fact that the entire checkpoint, including the parking lot, is located within the municipal boundary of Jerusalem.
3. The policeman explained to us that as far as the army and the police are concerned, it’s not safe for us to park in the northern parking lot because there’s no supervision. We believe it’s worth asking the army what the new division into red and blue means.