Qalandiya, Fri 15.2.13, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
09:00 The shed is filled with four congested lines of men and women crowded into the outer fenced corridors, stretching all the way to the rear.
The humanitarian lane for women, the elderly and the ill hasn’t opened. The DCO representative isn’t here.
A Palestinian says: “They’re all elderly, they want to pray. Now they’re being delayed, but at noon, after prayers have ended, they’ll be let through quickly.” He complains about the soldiers’ behavior; they’re talking on the phone, chatting with one another.
People on line say they’ve been waiting an hour, an hour and a half.
A man arrives at the checkpoint with his two children, on the way to the hospital. As noted, there’s no humanitarian lane.
After we telephone the DCO, more inspection booths open, in addition to the two that were operating. Now they’re all open.
The female soldier in charge of opening the revolving gates sits detached in a structure at the rear of the crowd. She neither hears nor sees. A soldier coming toward us claimed that the inspections can’t be conducted more quickly. After three telephone calls to the DCO, we feel a change.
The female soldier at the DCO is annoyed at our frequent calls. Didn’t she tell us there was someone from the DCO on the way?
09:30 The DCO man arrives, but he’s in no hurry to open the humanitarian gate. He said he’d gone to eat something. I asked him to announce there was a line for women, the elderly and the ill; he said that wasn’t possible, because they’re all elderly and ill. A wonderful response. If everyone needs the humanitarian lane, there’s really no reason to open it.
An older DCO representative arrives – or maybe he’s some other official. He explains that it’s better without a humanitarian lane, because there will only be one inspection window for it inside, and people on that line will ultimately wait longer.
He says he’s not able to redirect people to other lines once they’re inside. This time we kept running into soldiers each of whom does nothing else but his own specific job.
They announce the humanitarian lane for women and the ill, but it doesn’t open yet.
09:40 The line for women and the ill opens.
A blacklisted Palestinian man recounts how he was harassed by the occupation and the army more than ten years ago. The climax of the story came with soldiers breaking into his home at night and shooting him in the leg in front of his three year old son, his mother and his wife. He was jailed for years in Israel.
The reason – theft of his land. He tells us that his son, who’s grown, won’t forget that night.
10:00 Some of the painful images from the checkpoint: confused women and elderly men running hurriedly from the regular to the humanitarian lane, and when the gate there slams in their faces, running back to the regular lines, again and again.
Again I complain that the bathrooms are always closed to people going through the checkpoint, but they still stink.
There are feces on the floor of the shed, apparently belonging to someone who couldn’t wait any longer, but there are no bathrooms.
10:00 The lines become shorter.