It seems that we can open our weekly report in the same manner every week as nothing at all seems to change, at least not for the better. Once again we arrived at Qalandiya to find a huge traffic jam in the southern square that only began to disperse when the Great Gate in the Wall was opened. The problem is that with every passing week the driving of those stuck in the jam becomes a bit more aggressive so that every week is a bit more frightening that the last one. A Palestinian ambulance was standing in the vehicle CP while a Jerusalem ambulance waited in the bus parking lot. Natanya jumped out to see if she could help, but there was really no need as things worked out pretty quickly.
There were two active passageways in the pedestrian CP with fairly long lines in each. The lines as well as the waiting time grew longer as time passed. We phoned headquarters and asked to speak to the officers in charge. The female soldier who answered refused our request saying that they had a tremendous work load and that we should phone back later. Meanwhile the passageways had filled up completely and the guard at the CP entrance locked the turnstile so that a line quickly formed in the northern shed. We haven’t seen such crowds at the CP in the late afternoon in a very long time. We observed what was happening in the passageways and noticed that the team operating in Passageway 4 was working relatively efficiently while the team in Passageway 1 was allowing only two people at a time into the examination area and, after dealing with them and letting them into Jerusalem, they would take a break of from 5 to 10 minutes. Clearly there are closed circuit cameras at the CP filming what happens in the passageways. Are there no cameras filming the soldiers running the CP that see how they function? We tried to contact officers to inform them of what was happening in the CP, but no one was answering the phones, not in the DCO, not the DCO representatives and not even the telephone of the unit that operates the passageways. Qalandiya is an “orphan” CP!
We left Qalandiya a little after 5:15 PM. The lines were still very long. The soldier on duty at the CP entrance told us that all the soldiers were taking a break to eat their supper, so nothing could be done. But can’t the IDF change its schedule so that the soldiers eat a little later when there is less pressure at the CP (like 7 PM)? I imagine that all those Palestinians would also like to get home to eat.