Qalandiya

Place: 
Observers: 
Chana S. and Ronit D. (reporting); Translator: Hanna Kahana
Sep-7-2015
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Morning

An acceptable morning at the Qalandiטa CP

 

We arrived at the CP at approximately 5:15, after we parked at the Israeli side. The 5 checking posts were already open and the queue wasn't long. The beigel and cake vendors were at their usual place. At first the queue is only at the enclosure, which is near the aquarium in which a soldier, who is activating the turnstile at the end of the enclosure, sits. At a certain stage people began entering the middle enclosure as well. The soldier opened only the turnstile in the enclosure near him, and shouting began. We succeeded in catching the soldier's attention and to ask him to open the middle turnstile too. For a change he opened one of the windows, talked to us and was attentive. Next time he already opened the two turnstiles. Later in the morning the same procedure repeated itself regarding the third turnstile too.

At post 5 we hear on the loudspeaker the girl soldier repeating "masak hamsa rak tasrih" (at post 5 one must show only the authorization). After she had announced this on the loudspeaker a few times, people in the queue began imitating her. This caused the girl soldier to lose her calm and she shouted on the loudspeaker "shut up!". At post 4 we heard from time to time orders issued on the loudspeaker. It was difficult to understand what was said, but the tone was calm and explaining, not reprimanding.

 

5:30 – the queues became longer. Each time the turnstiles are opened the queues are reduced to the enclosures only, but the very quickly become long again, as more and more people arrive. Women become integrated in the queues at the entrance to the enclosures. We went to sit on the benches. One of our acquaintances arrives and comes up to say hello. He tells us that yesterday it was very bad. Disorder and shoving. That is why he came early today, although one can never know how much time the passage is going to take. We part with a "Hag Sameah" greeting (our forthcoming holidays and Id El Adha on their side).

 

Around 6 o'clock the queues already overflow beyond the shed and in the direction of the parking lot. At 6 the soldier in the aquarium is exchanged by a girl soldier. No policeman is seen, and no soldier from the DCO arrives to open the humanitarian gate, although people are already waiting there. At 6:10 the father with his three children arrived. When he saw that the humanitarian passage wasn't opened, he leaves the girls near the gate and goes to wait with the son in the regular queue – to see which will advance quicker. The regular queue advances quicker. The father called the girls to join the boy, and when they were inside the enclosure he left. It seems that this year children already cross over at the CP by themselves on their way to school. The father accompanies them and leaves.

 

At about 6:15 a security officer arrives. We thought that this may be a sign that the humanitarian gate was finally going to be opened. The security officer is seen talking on the two way radio and phone and sending text messages, perhaps trying to find out what happened to the DCO people. In the meantime he stands outside the aquarium and and instructs the girl soldier when to open and close the turnstiles. At 6:20 a policeman arrives. He too talks on the two way radio and then he told the people that "there is no DCO today" and that the humanitarian gate won't be opened. All the waiting people went to the regular queue and tried to mix in at the end of the enclosures, which caused the waiting people there to react angrily.  This security officer is usually a gentle man, towards us and also towards the Palestinians.We saw frequently that the policemen activated the passage by the humanitarian gate and he (or other security officers) helped them. We asked him why they didn't open the gate today. He explained that this was not their duty but that of the DCO soldiers. It's true that sometimes the policemen open the gate, but this is done as a favor, and is not their function. It seems that there is some kind of internal battle of power there, and in the meantime the Palestinians suffer…

 

Around 6:30 another policeman arrived. The security guard and the two policemen sat on the bench outside the aquarium, and the humanitarian gate remained shut. Luckily that queue today are reasonable. At one of the posts a girl soldier shouts at somebody on the loudspeaker "go home! Go, go, Kishta!" Another policewoman arrives and two cats come behind her. These are the only free creatures here, passing where they wish between the gatesinfo-icon and fences.

 

The regular queues again are reduced to the enclosures only, after each opening of the turnstiles. At 6:40 we too joined the queue. After the turnstiles and in front of the checking posts, a few elderly people wait on the side. We asked why they were waiting there. It turned out that they pass without authorization because of their age, but they would be allowed to pass after 8 only. We parted from them and went to one of the posts. The passage was quick and within less than 10 minutes we were outside. We shall return after the holidays.