Qalandiya

Place: 
Observers: 
Hanna Barag; Translator: Louise Levi
Sep-20-2015
|
Morning

 

The "humanitarian" gate: I wonder who invented this "sexy" name.  It's hard to see the connection between the name and the place. Women on their way to work have been crossing at the checkpoint since the beginning of the morning shift. The gate has been closed, of course (why of course?).  They have no choice but to squeeze through the overcrowded fenced-off areas. We have received quite a few complaints from women having been harassed in the crowd. And what about the children, the disabled and the sick?

 

Once, you could read the opening hours on a sign on the gate. The sign has disappeared – and maybe it's for the better, since the gate hardly ever opens on time.  And why can't it be left open according to schedule? Why do people have to wait in line until it opens? We have kept asking these questions for years, but the bureaucracy of the occupation doesn't make sense, only questions and no answers.

 

The DCO officer appeared at 6:15 ignoring the gate. Later, a policeman, a policewoman and two security guards joined the policeman who was already there. A big enough team to open the gate? That's what one would think. They sat down outside the aquarium talking to each other. Sometimes, the policeman who had been around since 5:30 joined them. They would not open the gate before there was a line of waiting people but, of course, there was no line because when the women became desperate they chose to suffer the humiliation in the fenced-off areas only to be on time for work. Once in a while, the officer and the policemen were "kind enough" to open the gate, but soon, they got fed up and before 7 o'clock nobody was left to open it.

 

At the beginning the line stretched out of the covered area.  All the check posts kept working. We measured that it took 25 minutes to cross. Towards 7 o'clock the line had become shorter so the crossing was faster. From time to time, announcements were made through the loudspeakers but we found it hard to understand what was said.  Like every day, they announced that those who don't need permits, men above the age of 60, would not be allowed to cross before 8 o'clock. At 6:40, a young couple arrived. The man was carrying a sleeping babyinfo-icon. The humanitarian gate was closed. The workers let them through so they crossed quickly. When the man turned to me in Hebrew asking if I too had had to carry a sick baby like this on his way to the hospital I didn't know what to say. How can one answer such a question? And as usual, there was nothing new under the sun at the checkpoints.