Afternoon

28/01/2003
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(Elections Day)Qalandya - 15:15 - Very quiet , hardly any traffic. A., the taxi driver, says that since two days ago the checkpoints have been closing at 16:00. He told us a checkpoint has been active at Jaba.Jaba - 15:45. The checkpoint has been opened since 09:00 in the morning. People who entered earlier are not allowed to return to their homes unless they have yellow license plates. All other license plates are turned back after a very long wait. Two border policemen man this point alone. Few Palestinians with green Id cards are allowed to go eastward on foot - the criteria aren't clear at all. The soldier at the checkpoint answers our question regarding criteria with disdain, saying there are no criteria, that he "acts according to orders and has no time to start explaining to us why a group of civilians with orange ID cards aren't allowed to move eastward at the checkpoint, to their homes. As R. commented: they're forced to stay where they're forbidden to be and forbidden to go to their homes... Every once in a while someone with an orange Id is allowed to walk across to the eastern side. No cars with Palestinian license plates are allowed in either direction.It seems that only people going eastward are being checked - those walking in the opposite direction are mostly ignored. A crippled elderly man with crutches walks up to us asking for help - his taxi isn't allowed across and he lives in Awartha village near Nablus - he claims his three sons were killed on April 20th when a military jeep ran into his car crippling him. We approached the soldier who went to the taxi, speaking in a nasty manner to a lawyer sitting next to the driver, who showed him (and later - us) a permit from the IDF judge advocate general stating his details and the date - he must appear to represent clients at Ofer detention camp - and now he is not allowed to return to his home. We tried to solve this absurdity through the Border Police of “Yehuda & Samaria”, who referred us to the Civil Administration international organizations liaison soldier - to no avail. He finally snuck on foot to a taxi and drove away. The soldier agreed to our request and allowed the cripple and three women who were with him to walk across and try to go home. He wasn't considered a humanitarian case (according to Andre from the Civil Administration international org. liaison) unless he needed immediate hospitalization by ambulance. 17:00 - a very long line of cars waiting to cross to the eastern side.A. tells us that this checkpoint wasn't there yesterday.17:25 Qalandya - everyone passes through to the north on foot without waiting or being checked. A long line of cars coming in from the north - waiting time: 40 minutes. Only yellow license plates. 3 soldiers man the checkpoint for cars coming south. 1 soldier for pedestrians. The checks are quick. The peddlers at the north point have returned.