Qalandiya, Wed 19.12.07, Afternoon
First day of the Feast and whole families with children dressed in new
clothes are crossing the checkpoint.
In Qalandya, the crowds build up every
afternoon between 4:30 and 5:30, when many Palestinians arrive at the
checkpoint and want to cross back to Jerusalem. People finish work in Bir Zeit University
at about 4:00 and then become a crowd at the checkpoint. This happens every day and on this Feast as
well. And it is precisely at 4:30 that
soldiers get their "break" and go out to eat and therefore only 1
checking station remains open. On this
holiday, whole families with children (all Jerusalemites or with special
permits to go to Israel) have to wait outside of the checkpoint area until the
only checking station is free and then another 10 or 15 people are allowed to
cross the first turnstile and wait in line for their turn at the checking
station. We ask the soldier to request
that another checking station be opened and she says in wonder: "But the
soldiers have to eat sometime". We
say they can eat at 3:30, when there are few people crossing and that we
believe that after so much daily experience, if the authorities at the checkpoint
still send the soldiers to eat at peak crossing time,
this means that they are on purpose causing longer waiting time for
Palestinians. She seems surprised at
this conclusion. A man waiting in line
angrily tells us: "When you are here, it is worse, the waiting is
longer". What can we say? Only at 5:20 a second check station is opened
but many people have missed the feastly dinner.
A 15 year old boy who looks older until he smiles and then he does look
his age, tells us he lost his birth certificate and is not allowed to cross to Jerusalem where he
lives. He sits and waits for a miracle
to happen until someone allows him to cross.
We lend him our phone to call relatives and after some time his brother
comes and says he will bring him back home and we don't ask how.
A man who has been told to come to the CDO before 5 p.m. to pick up a
permit to collect his wife from Ben Gurion airport says
that the DCO is closed already at 4:00 and he cannot get through to
anyone. After many calls, it becomes
apparent that the staff of the DCO is sitting inside the office but they don't
open the door or serve the people. It
takes many calls to get them to open and give this man his permit. What happens
when we are not there? Is this the case every day?
At the roundabout at the northern section of the vehicle checkpoint a
soldier shouts to us from the tower at the pillbox: "Go away",
"I will call the police", "LEAVE THE ARMY ALONE". The soldier controlling the traffic from the
booth at the roundabout orders us:
"Machsom-Watch, come here".
We ignore all their calls.