Qalandiya

Observers: 
Gili Kugler and Ya'ara Rafiah (reporting); Translator:Hanna K.
Feb-26-2015
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Morning

We arrived at 05:00. We found  5 open posts, but only 2 enclosures active. Strange – we thought that the turnstile of the first enclosure had been repaired.

 

The workmen too thought that it had been repaired but discover that it doesn't  work after some time of standing in the queue. When they discover it – they go back and merge in the other enclosures, without creating havoc. They are used to it…

 

We ask the soldier in the aquarium what the matter is with the turnstile of the first enclosure, he says it is broken, and that's how it is.

 

5:10 There aren't many people in the shed, and the people who arrive to stand in the central enclosure. Will it work or not? Those who take the risk are very happy when it turns out that it worth his while.

 

5:20 We hear sirens from the vehicle CP. A bit early, no?

 

5:30 The queue already reaches the parking lot. We stand and block the passage to the first enclosure. Not everybody listened to us, but still they tried. In conversation with people they ask "do you think that what you write has any effect?" Another person claims that the soldiers "play according to their feeling" – the meaning being that if they wish they can be efficient and quick in the passage. If they wish they will repair the turnstile. If they don't wish – then nothing happens.

5:40 We put a signboard at the entrance to the first enclosure that it was closed. The queues became shorter and reached the shed.

 

5:55 In spite of the signboard, and in spite of the fact that we stand there and explain that the turnstile is out of order , people nevertheless enter to try until one person arrives, tries and suddenly…. To everybodys astonishment – it works!  They rush to this queue too. As a result the queues become quickly shorter.

 

6:00 The shed is empty.

 

6:10 A soldier from the DCO arrives at the humanitarian gate but there are no people there. When people see that he is there , they arrive and stand in queue. He takes his time  before he goes to open the gate, and lets people pass only when at queue accumulates. We share our thoughts about this with him and ask him naively whether he lets people pass only when a queue accumulates in order "to show who the master here is". He answers seriously that "yes. We don't work for them".

 

6:20 There are again long queues in the shed, people don't stand in front of the first enclosure because they are not sure it functions or not. When they understand it does – there is much joy, running and excitement!

 

The soldiers say that if the enclosure is stuck one has to shake it forcefully and then it will open. And that it breaks down because the Arabs demolish it. Logical?

 

6:35 The humanitarian soldier goes away. Immediately after that a group of schoolgirls arrive and don't know where to stand. In the humanitarian queue or in the ordinary one. Having no other choice they choose the ordinary queue.

 

6:45 The shed is empty. We leave. It takes us 10 minutes to pass.

 

6:55 The exit gate is stuck after the five checking posts. A security officer arrives and opens the door so that everybody could pass quickly. He says that there is a problem with the electrical contacts of the gate, it has been like that already a few days, it is taken care of. He passed by chance and saw that there was a problem, so he arrived to open the gate.  Hadn't he arrived we would have waited some more, shouted, and then somebody would have arrived.

 

We talk with him, he is nice and explains to us that a check is performed every day to see that everything functions and is in order, so that the business with the first turnstile is really strange. And also – that one shouldn't expect anything from the simple soldiers who sit in the aquarium. They are small minded. Really.  

So this morning everything was relatively reasonably, the queues weren't too long, no shoving, but what stood out for us, and in fact what disturbed us most was the ignorance what the situation would be in the morning: would all the posts function? All the turnstiles? Would the soldiers be efficient? Would they arrive on time to open the humanitarian gate? Are there new soldiers which still work slowly? Will this be a shift of a tough policeman who checks whether you are 59.5 or 60 years old and doesn't let you pass through the humanitarian gate, etc. etc. etc. The ignorance can drive you mad! Sometimes it takes 10 minutes to pass, and sometimes 3 hours!  We who activate Waze before we leave home and know exactly when we shall arrive and how we should drive – cannot understand this at all. The feeling is of complete helplessness, things are not under your control. One cannot confront any whim of the sovereign, so you should say thank you that you have an authorization. And do not test us – we can create many troubles for you. A pity!