Afternoon

30/10/2002
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There were 5 very serious incidents during our shift.Qalandya South – 15:451. A group of Palestinians were led by a soldier from the northern part of the checkpoint to the south where they were released. They told us that a group of about 40, including 2 women, had been detained by the quarry and kept there in the field, lying on the ground, for about 3 hours and now they were released. One of them was extremely angry because the soldiers had insulted them "with words he was too embarrassed to repeat". One of the detaineesinfo-icon showed us a magnetic card and said that even though he had permission, the soldiers had not allowed him through the checkpoint and therefore he had tried going around. They said they had been caught by soldiers who came out of a Palestinian taxi. It might be worth while to check whether the soldiers are using taxis to surprise Palestinians using short-cuts.Qalandya North – 16:152. One of the peddlers at the roadblock showed us an official order he had just received, issued by the Civil Administration, in which he was warned that he was trespassing on the border of the road – against the law of supervision and maintenance of roads of the year 1938! and was ordered to remove his merchandise immediately. The attention paid by the Civil Administration to this issue of the peddlers at the side of the 'dirt passage of pedestrians' seems absurd in the best of cases and outright wicked and cynical in the worst. Another man approached us and told us his merchandise (clothing) worth about NIS 4,000 had been seized on the 12.2.02 and until now he had not been able to retrieve it. When this happened he didn't receive a warning but it was taken on the spot. I think we should make a campaign on this and show how the checkpoint looks, how the pedestrian lane looks, and then demand the concern of the Civil Administration for "supervision and maintenance of the roads".3. A big truck transporting all the belongings of an institution from Ramallah to Bet Hanina was stopped by a female soldier at the checkpoint. She refused to check the truck and told the driver to go back. First she said it was impossible for her to check because the truck was too full. Then she said the driver had taken over the line and had not waited for his turn and thus she had to teach him a lesson. The driver refused to remove his truck; he said he had been waiting for 1.5 hours on the line and would not go back and lose his place. We managed to find a young officer and after some friendly and constructive discussion he checked the truck and released the line of waiting cars. We noticed that women soldiers at the checkpoint are usually are very uncooperative and unwilling to be flexible with women with children, elderly or humanitarian cases.4. Qalandya north -17:00 hours2 men were detained for over 5 hours. One is held because "there is some suspicion" about his car. He offers to take his car back to Qalandya and go by foot on to A-Ram but this request takes over 5 hours to be accepted. The second man was detained for 6 hours without food or water because his permit was fake, according to the soldiers. We called the Moked but only at 18:30, with the intervention of Shadi, the head of the company at the Qalandya checkpoint was he was released. Shadi made a point of telling the soldiers that it is inconceivable that for such a thing a person will be detained for 6 hours or more. 5. Qalandya south – 17:30We had a rare chance to witness how the soldiers at the checkpoint fabricate a 'case' in the best Kafkian style. At 17:30 a young man standing at the side of the car lane at the southern end of the checkpointpointed to a soldier who had broken his taxi's back window (Palestinian plates) and then had taken away his keys and ID. He said now he was waiting for car keys and ID to be returned. The Palestinian's version of events was this: He was coming with his taxi from Hizme and made a turn towards A-Ram at the checkpoint. Due to a traffic jam he had to stop and then about 4 -5 people entered the taxi and he started to drive away. Then he heard the soldier ordering him to stop and he did. One minute later he heard the soldier called "Sah" (Drive!) and he began to advance. At that moment, he heard the big bang of the butt of the soldiers' rifle on his back window and stopped. The passengers left and the driver's keys and papers were taken by the soldier who broke the window. The driver was ordered to wait there at the side of the road. Usually, if there is no great damage, the drivers are allowed to continue on their way after an "educational" waiting period that ranges from half an hour to 2 hours. However, because the soldier did break the window and maybe because we and the reporters were around to witness this, the soldiers had to publicly justify his attack: if he did break the Palestinian's window, it was for a very important reason, even in order to save his own life! They called the police at the Neve Yaacov station and filed a complaint against the taxi driver for "attempting to run-down the soldier, i.e. attempted murder". Once we understood the severity of this accusation, which was clearly fabricated in order to cover the soldier's Aggression, we tried to convince Shadi that everyone should drop this case: the Palestinian would not ask for compensation for the broken window and we would not proceed to the Police Station at Neve Yaacov. Shadi was not willing to do this, he said he himself had questioned two soldiers and they both had witnessed the attempted murder and thus the police investigator would have to deal with this. It seemed to us that Shadi had done more than question the two soldiers, more likely he had instructed the soldiers what to do. We took the name and telephone of the Palestinian driver (Ali) and gave him our mobile phone and assured him we would also go to the police station. He was taken in the Police jeep and we reached the place about 15 minutes later. There we made sure that Ali saw us and realized we had not left him alone. Then we asked the police officer in charge to give testimony. He said it was not necessary because they already have the testimony of the soldier but we could leave our name and phone and if they needed more information they would call us. We insisted that our testimony has as much weight as the soldiers' because we are citizens and have something to add to the testimony of the soldiers. By then a policewoman (Elizabeth) interfered and said I could give testimony but it would be under warning (tahat azhara). We asked warning for what and she added: "for harassing a policeman during his work". We assured her nobody had complained of any harassment but she said she was not interested in hearing our testimony. By then, we identified the highest ranking official at the Station (Shuky) and requested to talk to him and then gave him Ali's version, adding our observations (he had not been handcuffed, he was roaming around the checkpoint for about 2 hours before being brought to Neve Yaacov, it would be inconceivable that a would-be murderer of soldiers would receive such treatment at the checkpoint). At 22:30, after checking the soldier's version and Ali's version, the police investigator asked us to sign a guarantee for Ali's release and declared he would be released totally clean and without any charges: "I accept your version; it was all a misunderstanding". At this point we thought this was the best offer we could get and decided to get Ali out of there and forget about demanding that the soldier pays for the damage to the car, since this would require more investigation and harassment. However, this doesn't mean that we don't have to complain to the army for the soldiers' aggressive behavior and consequent fabrication of a vile story in order to clean up his guilt. We took Ali back to the A-Ram checkpoint where he assured us he had friends waiting. We will write a complaint to the army about the soldiers' behavior and attack.