Hanna S. and Ronit D. (reporting), Hanna K. (translating)
A very crowded morning at the Qalandiya CP, with a surprise: An officer times the duration of time it takes to pass; at the Shua'fat CP there is a considerable improvement, after busses were allowed to pass with the passengers.
We arrived at the Qalandiya CP at approx. 5:15. It is cold and dark. People group around bonfires to warm up. A many membered group prayer welcomed us near the passage in the direction of Qalandiya. As usual people make way for us and we pass. Inside we are welcomed by long queues which flow over beyond the shed. 5 checking posts were already active. But today there is a surprise: a young officer stands outside the aquarium with sheets in his hand. It turns out that he tries to time the duration it takes to pass. He has taken the ID cards from some people, and wrote down the numbers and the hour. He will then checks on the computer when they have passed. His problem is how to get to the end of the queue. He approached the people nearest to him, those who stand at the entrance to the enclosures. But the queues have already overflowed deep into the parking lot and the officer wanted to know how much time elapses from the moment a person arrives until he passes. He asked people to go and bring him ID cards of people standing at the end of the queue. The problem was that people were afraid to cooperate with him. Only later in the morning we saw somebody who agreed to help him. He went and brought him a few people from the end of the queue. In the meantime the few women who arrived were enabled to join the queue at the entrance to the enclosures and the queues were long, but the order was maintained and the speed of the progress was acceptable.
At 5:30 a policeman arrived and joined the soldier in the aquarium. A short time later another policeman arrived. Towards 6 o'clock people began waiting at the humanitarian gate. Just then the officer disappeared. Two guardsmen arrived and greeted the waiting people, but didn't open the gate. At about 6:15 the officer returned with P., the NCO from the DCO, whom we hadn't seen for a long time. The officer explained that he had gone to bring a key. Now P. opens the gate with the help of the guardsmen and the officer resumes writing down the ID numbers to check the timing. The queue becomes longer and then again shorter alternately.
We wnet to watch the sunrise and to warm ourselves over a glass of tea. The guy who runs the kiosk already knows how to prepare it for us. We asked him where Iman, who we hadn't seen for a long time, was. He says he is Iman's brother, and is called Muhamad. Lately their father is ill and Iman takes care of him.
At 6:30, when the queues were already only in the shed, we joined the queue. It took us 25 minutes to pass. Outside the bonfires were already extinguished and we saw a municipality vehicle clearing the garbage.
After a break for fueling and toilets at the gas station at the French Hill, where we saw that the blockage at the entrance to Issawiya wasn't manned but that the concrete barricades still blocked part of the road, we drove to the Shua'fat CP. We passed on foot. On the way inside we saw that busses, both student busses and public transportation ones, were coming out with their passengers. Inside we went to the student transportation zone. The place was teeming and bustling. Attendants direct the children to the busses which fill up and drive off, although we also saw a bus which loads the children in the middles of the traffic lane in a most dangerous manner. The student busses have a separate lane and they pass without being checked.
We met Jamil Sanduka, the energetic chairman of the residents committee of Ras Hamis. He tells us that with the help of Human Rights activists, among which is Hanna Brag and others. The passage of busses and their passages is again made possible. This greatly facilitates the situation. He says that about 5000 students travel every day on busses to their schools beyond the CP. We greet him for farewell and go to the pedestrian passage.
We were happy to see that the queue wasn't long, probably because of the fact that it was possible to pass by busses and it wasn't necessary to leave the busses and to pass on foot. The tempo of the passage was reasonable and within 10 minutes we were outside. At the exit from the building a cleaner was washing the steps, and greeted us Good Morning. We stopped to watch the passage of the vehicles. We wanted to see who the passage of the busses was conducted: were the passengers of the Public Transportation checked one by one, does the representative of the security forces get on the bus, etc. We managed to see the minibus stop, the door being opened and the women in the first seat holding their ID cards in their hands. But then the Border Policeman and the guard were alerted and demanded that we proceed. We made it clear that we wanted to observe, and that this was our right, but they insisted. As their dealings with us made them abandon their posts and thus the traffic was delayed, we decided not to argue, and moved on. All in all the situation seemed much better than in the past.