Natanya G. and Phyllis W. (reporting)

We returned to Qalandiya this week.  We parked in a lot on the Israeli side of the CP, in Beit Hanina, so that we wouldn’t get stuck in a traffic jam on the way to Lil/Jaba CP on the way home.  We reached the CP at 3:45 PM and found it almost empty.  Three passageways were operating and there were no lines at all.  The passageway to the DCO offices was closed.  The two female soldiers sitting in the “aquarium” between Passageways 4 and 5(entrance to the DCO) said that they had to ask for permission before opening the DCO entrance.  One of our tasks yesterday at Qalandiya was to meet a Palestinian man and have him sign a Power of Attorney.  We gave him the papers we had brought for him (a request to the ”Shabak”   to change his status as a security risk) and he signed the PoA, and then we suggested that we check and see if he could submit his request immediately in view of the fact that the DCO should have been open at that hour and there were no lines at all.  He agreed and stood in Passageway 5 while we entered Passageway 4 and asked the 2 female soldiers to let our friend into the DCO.  Both soldiers were polite and businesslike.  They quickly received permission and sent him through to the DCO.  It took our friend about half an hour to present his request.  He wasn’t given a receipt but was told to return for an answer in 2 or 3 months (the usual length of time required).  The Shabak works slowly.

Towards 4:30 PM, the numbers of people arriving in the CP began to increase (and, of course, that was the time that one of the active passageways shut down leaving only 2 open).  There was a lot of pressure in the vehicle CP, but not very many were standing in line at the passageway for bus passengers at the western end of the CP.  At 4:45 PM we began to hear shots being fired at the western end of the CP and we saw several soldiers carrying weapons near the bus passenger CP.  A young man standing near us said that they were shooting tear gas (and Natanya, who walked closer in order to see, confirmed this).  We couldn’t make out who was being fired at and saw no rocks flying or any other suspicious activity. 

We left Qalandiya at 5 PM when the shooting stopped, and returned to Jerusalem.