The Workers holiday in the Palestinian Authority – humiliating the workers at the Qalandiya barrier
Summary: From 4:00 to 5:15 the barrier was closed. Nothing is moving. The workers received no explanation, masses waited for hours. People were caught in the "mass" crowding into the enclosures. Many of them returned home after having waited for three hours.
5.00 arrival at Qalandiya . Even before passing into the yard, on the "Israeli" side - the people engaged in prayers tell us that the barrier is closed completely – no one can go out, and - till just a few minutes ago – nobody could enter. The passages are immobilized. We understand that from 4.00 o`clock everything was closed.
5:05 We move into the yard – total chaos. No queue, a mass of people heaped near the opening of the enclosure, pushing and climbing upon each other without knowing that nothing was opened. Such an absurd situation – more and more people arrive, hang their bread bags on the "bag wall" get ready for the fight – not knowing that all the pushing is in vain, because nothing is moving.
Dozens of people are moving around in the yard, smoking, desperate. Others are praying. The mass of people continues to move and twist, some of them are caught there for long intervals.
As we were told by the workers - some of whom we had never seen before - who had arrived at 4.00 o'clock and remained in the yard up to the late morning hours, this was the situation when they arrived.
Our guess was that there was no electricity on the tracks, but you can never know – during this hour there was no public announcement, no explanation and even no shouting…nobody spoke to the Palestinians to explain what had happened and when
it would change. Nobody cared or showed interest in the large human mass quarreling at the entrance to the enclosure, who did not know in what direction they were supposed to advance, a Kafkaesque situation.
5.15 Something is beginning to move. No explanation or apology are offered, but suddenly the enclosures are opened. Movement, as expected, is tough and slow, the human mass does not relax for a long time almost till 6.30. The early bird workers, unable or unwilling to push, remain in the yard smoking more and more. Many of them return home, a day`s work is lost even for those who got up at 3.00 in the morning.
We meet a young woman with a baby boy aged two, carrying bags and picnic coolers. They have been waiting since 5.15 in the commotion. The woman is excited – they are going to the Banias for the first time (will pass only in an hour through the humanitarian gate).
And it turns out – in addition to all the other problems – that today is the first of May – Abu Mazen announced that the holiday would take place one day earlier. The worker`s holiday.
6.10 A DCO officer arrives, the first person to pay attention to our complaints. He is prepared to listen to what happened in the morning and is surprised (!) by our description. He says, in an agreeable manner, that this is unacceptable and "must be reported", and this is all. Turns out that none of his colleagues in the aquarium – at present several functionaries are already there – a soldier, three policemen, two guards and two trainees - is worried because of the humiliation in the morning.
In the meantime many people gather at the humanitarian gate. Some of them have been waiting since dawn and hope to be able to pass through the humanitarian gate. At the same time more women and children arrive.
6.30 A man aged 53 standing near the humanitarian gate is "punished" by the policeman whom we know, because he dared to stand near the gate, although he was only 53 years old. His license is taken away. Twenty minutes later and following a request from F. to intervene – the man gets his license back and is sent to stand in the disorderly queue.
Simultaneously – the Palestinians complain that the soldiers do not obey the new law that allows people over 55, to pass without licenses. We approach F. and he says that they are informed and obey the law. He lets them pass.
6.40 – 7.00 Women, children, families and classes of girl students with their teachers begin to gather in the yard, carrying bags and jerikans, they are going on a trip. Some of them manage to pass through the humanitarian gate. At a certain stage the soldiers tell them to wait at the side, perhaps for the purpose of letting the workers pass ahead of them.
A hard and annoying day at the Qalandiya barrier.