Qalandiya, Tue 17.9.13, Afternoon
15:00 When we arrived, the shed (which had an overwhelming stench) was empty, apart from a trickle of people passing in both directions. We were beginning to think our shift was a waste of time when, a few minutes later, the soldier managing the carousels started barking instructions (in broken Arabic) at a woman making her way back from the DCO lane. She was shouting that the DCO was closed and that the woman should return at 9 a.m. the next day. As the public notice says that the office hours are from 13-16.00, we called – and were told that the office was in fact open. We accompanied the woman to the DCO lane (gate 5) where the woman soldier sitting way inside just called out in Arabic “closed!” without even bothering to come to the window. After we insisted , she admitted the woman but kept shouting at her about putting her bag etc. and giving no help about where to find the office.
A few minutes later the woman came out. She had been to the office but her request refused. She sat down in despair. At this point a local man came up and explained that she had come from Gaza to visit her son in hospital in Ramallah(?) and needed to go home for 24 hours to fetch money and clothes, and also had a sick child at home. With his help as interpreter, we phoned the army humanitarian office and gave them her ID number. They then said she should go to the DCO as her permit was ready for her. We once again accompanied her to the entrance. The DCO must have been informed because a polite male voice addressed us in Hebrew, instructing her to bring her bag. At this point another woman approached, wanting the DCO, and was told that it was closed. It was already 15:50, so almost official closing time, but she managed to get in.
Of course, we could not see what happened after they entered but, as neither had returned while we waited for the next half-hour, we assumed and hope that they were both successful.