The first thing to greet our eyes when we arrived at Qalandiya, was Suleiman standing in his usual place by his pushcart near the wall. He wasn’t looking too well and he told us he was having problems with his heart. God alone knows how he pushed the cart all the way to the CP.
At the entrance to the CP we met a young woman with a baby in the carriage carrying several bundles (like every “proper woman”). She drafted a young boy to help her fold the carriage and maneuver it through the turnstile at the entrance. We volunteered to help with the bundles. The young boy helped her through the next turnstile as well before going on his way. In his stead another man volunteered to fold the carriage again and coax it through the third turnstile. One wonders who plans these CPs that take no account of the day-to-day needs of the people using them.
A little later we met a young man from the West Bank who was accompanying his sister from Gaza to the DCL offices. They were waiting in the DCL passageway after having been invited at 11 AM to come from Jenin and pick up the sister’s permit to return to Gaza. We phoned headquarters and asked them to let the two proceed to the DCL office but the soldier on the phone told us that the DCL had closed at 4:10 PM and the two would not be able to get the permit that was waiting for them. We phoned several times more, to no avail, and the two had to return to Jenin and file a new request for a permit. (I spoke with the woman this morning and she had not yet received a new permit.)
We also met two elderly Palestinian women accompanied by a young boy of 14 and a girl of 15. The two women held birth certificates for the youngsters but were told that the 15-year old girl was required to hold an I.D. card. She was not allowed through so she returned home with her brother and one of the women.
By this time it was 4:40 PM and the flow of people was increasing. Suddenly one of the three active passageways shut down and the soldiers left for supper (because this is the timetable by which the kitchen works). Within a few minutes the lines in the two remaining passageways grew to about 20 or more people each and the waiting time lengthened accordingly.
Time and again we observe that the physical and bureaucratic organization of the CPs bears no relation to the needs of the people whom they are supposed to serve.