Afternoon

Nov-13-2003
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QalquiliyaObservers: H. A. R. H., S. K., guests: R. D. N.2:30 - there was little pedestrian traffic on both sides of the checkpoint. Across the road was a barb wire fence. On it's right side pushcarts and trucks passed. Both pedestrian and vehicular traffic passed fluidly with no special delays. On the side of the road are a number of men who hold blue ID who try a number of times to pass but they are prevented from entering Qalquilya. The commander of the Checkpoint, Officer Polak is polite. He tells us that there is a relaxation -"there is no closureinfo-icon and everything is going smoothly." He explains that those who hold green and orange ID can pass freely but for the holders of blue ID there is passage only for women (why?) and for men who have permission. One of the young men tells us that he has been waiting for three hours. Somebody brings him his permit to the checkpoint that has apparently been forgotten in Qalquilya and he passes. Despite the calm atmosphere, there is a young man in line who waves his papers and shouts something in Arabic (that we do not understand) to the soldiers. We ask him how long he has been waiting and he answers "my whole life". At about three o'clock the traffic thickens. A child escorts a blind man through with no checking. There is traffic of carts carrying vegetables, equipment and furniture, trucks unloading and loading goods back to back, a large number of ambulances from both directions that pass easily with no delays. Suddenly, a large line of men and women accumulate and the commander of the Checkpoint is not around. A soldier and a guard shout "back! back!" and within minutes the atmosphere becomes threatening. A woman shouts at the soldiers "Ramadan" and he shouts "move back or we won't let anyone pass". We interfere and speak to him. He explains to us that "we have to teach them" but begins to pass the people and the line dissipates immediately. A group of Norwegians wish to enter Qalqilya where they left their belongings. They are delayed, and invited to sit on the side of the checkpoint, while the commander of the checkpoint waits for a telephone giving him permission to allow them to cross. They are glad to meet us. A journalist and a Palestinian photographer tells us that two weeks ago his camerainfo-icon and a digital computer were broken and shows us photographs he took at the checkpoint. A group of foreigners (from the International Solidarity Movement) passes a half an hour later. We left at 4:30 when the checkpoint was completely empty.