Qalandiya, Wed 24.10.07, Afternoon
Although there were not more than 40 Palestinians at the pedestrian checkpoint at 4:05, the checkpoint operators (Military police, shabak secret servicemen, blue police, whoever is responsible) managed to make these Jerusalemites wait up to half an hour to cross from north to south.
Only entrance 1 is open at. At 4:09 the soldiers announce over the loudspeaker that also entrance 4 is open. All those at the end of the line in entrance 1 run to entrance 4. About 5 people are allowed through. After waiting for 10 minutes, becoming increasingly upset, they are told entrance 4 is in fact closed and they have to go back to entrance 1. Of course each change of entrance means that those who were already close to the carrousela and ready to be checked now go back to the end of the line at the new entrance. After 10 minutes of waiting and being pushed around, the loudspeaker announces that entrance 4 is again open. This harassment goes on for a while. Women with children who we have been waiting in entrance 1 and then in entrance 4 and then again in entrance 1 and again in entrance 4 are crying, not so much from tiredness but from frustration and humiliation.
At entrance 1 the soldier shouts repeatedly to a very old woman, bent over a walking stick, to show her ID: "Hadj, hadj, hawieh!!" Hadj is supposed to be a respectful title for old people but somehow, with the threatening shouting of the soldier it sounds like an insult.
At about 4:35 the soldier checking in entrance 4 decides to be more thorough. To one tourist he says: "Your visa is not valid", but then lets him go. But then he thinks he has caught a "big fish". A young boy of about 20, with a blue ID is detained and 3 shabak plain clothed men come to question him. He is introduced into the door that says "further inspection" and then the 3 plain clothed secret service men start to check him. They put on rubber gloves and strip him. The boy seems calm. At 4:50 the 3 secret servicemen take him to another investigation room, in the area of the Matak and post office. The secret servicemen tell us we have nothing to worry about, but Andrea says that what we see actually worries us. After five minutes they return him and let him go.
Outside the checkpoint we asked him what it was all about. He said he was born in the US and that his ID said so. He was again and again asked about that and he said that when he was taken to the new building he saw someone "like a psychologist or something" who again asked him if he had been born in the USA and then he was released. Strange story, although we have heard that Palestinians with US documents are encouraged to give up their Israeli ids.