Qalandiya, Tue 4.6.13, Morning
We reached the checkpoint at 05:40. The lines were short; crossing took about 15 minutes. From 06:00 the revolving gate at the end of the left-hand fenced corridor remained open and everyone arriving went through freely until we left at 07:00. All morning those entitled to use the humanitarian gate decided they’d reach their destination more quickly by passing through the fenced corridors, perhaps because they didn’t see any DCO soldier at the humanitarian gate.
A woman carrying a baby arrived at the humanitarian gate but the DCO soldier in charge was in the “aquarium,” behind a closed door. We called him and were about to telephone the humanitarian office to ask them to tell him to come open the gate. The soldier emerged, explaining he’s not allowed to open the gate without a police escort, and no police officer was available. We hadn’t met the soldier before. We assumed he was new on the job and asked whether he was referring to a security guard. In any case, we said, we’re sure no harm will come to him from the woman and baby if he’ll open the gate for them. The woman finally got tired of our negotiations, entered the fenced corridor and went through the revolving gate by pushing with her elbows. Anoher woman arrived at the gate carrying a small child; we called the soldier from the aquarium who opened the gate for her without a guard being present (two guards later made a brief appearance).
The conclusion: It’s very convenient when people can cross freely to the inspection stations and there’s no need for the humanitarian gate. But, when someone’s who’s entitled to use it arrives, there’s a reason. Why get a soldier out of bed early in the morning only to sit him in the aquarium, where he can’t see people who require his services? And why send him to “work” without providing a guard, if that’s what he needs to do his job?
After we hadn’t seen them for a few weeks, two guys from “Blue-White” appeared at the checkpoint with a journalist from “Jerusalem Report.” The journalist also asked our opinion of that group, and we have to admit that we haven’t much patience to answer that question which is asked repeatedly at this early hour – particularly since Mr. Hendel uses the articles he arranges about himself and his group to badmouth Machsom Watch. But we spoke to the journalist by phone later in the day and answered all his questions.