Qalandiya, Sun 4.11.12, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
05:30 The line is terribly crowded and congested, all the way to the parking lot. The female soldier responsible for opening the revolving gate naps on the desk, ignoring us, and doesn’t respond to our request. After we telephoned the DCO asking them to speed up inspection in the fenced corridors we were told they’d look into it. Nothing happens and the line continues to crawl forward (it took a person at the end of the line 55 minutes to cross!!!).
06:00 The female soldier’s replacement arrives, accompanied by a guard. Now the situation gets worse. While this one didn’t nap, she’s busy eating breakfast (something in a pita), and when we asked her to open the revolving gate more frequently she responded scornfully. She screams over the loudspeaker, announcing that five inspection booths are open – to people who’ve been going through the checkpoint every day for years and certainly know there are inspection booths. We don’t know whether or not the soldier is joking. The guard explains that the Arabs may not know; they have to be helped, to be told that there are in fact five inspection booths. A policeman next to him peacefully recites the morning prayers – his own personal intimate worship. The female soldier smokes or eats or yells and sometimes “flows” people through. The DCO officer loses patience with us, and after it seems to us the humanitarian gate can finally open for a few old women he says, “What’s the hurry, they’ll enter”!!
The line continues to lengthen every time another taxi arrives with laborers. They first wait quietly, but after a while there’s noisy shouting and commotion. They’re frustrated because all can see how the revolving gate leading to five inspection booths hardly opens.
06:15 A long line has formed at the humanitarian gate, waiting for the DCO officer. True, in view of such congestion every minute past 6 AM seems endless, and the officer did arrive and quickly checked that no 58-year old laborer had sneaked into the humanitarian line, hoping to be taken for 60 and cross though a line less dangerous to one’s health. The policeman is also trying out a new procedure today: the guard must ensure that an appropriate distance is maintained between those on the humanitarian line who are entering now, and those whose turn comes next. They’re “frustrated” by the Palestinians’ lack of cooperation.
When we tried to talk to the officer (the first sergeant, who at first listened to us but later refused to respond), the guard replied to our comment that the policeman keeps praying instead of maintaining order by saying “What – doesn’t the policeman have a right to pray? The laborers also spread out prayer mats.” He forgot that they have a great deal of time in which to go through this cruel border crossing.
07:30 The line finally grows shorter; almost everyone on the humanitarian lane has also crossed. The “team” – the female soldier, the guard and the first sergeant – responded to Rony’s attempts to “instruct them”, continuing to explain that the terrorists are responsible for the rigorous inspections, and the 20,000 laborers who go through the checkpoint are responsible for the congestion (which they deny exists). Our data shows that not more than 2000-2500 go through, including on Sunday.
We wonder in our frustration what tomorrow will bring, about the children who daily experience this crude humiliation, disrespect and dehumanization. Frustration, despair, very sad. What can be done to prevent such days occurring?