Afternoon

Dec-3-2003
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MachsomWatchers: R.B., D.Y., M.Z., A.K.That morning there was an announcement on the radio the Surda checkpoint is open. people confirm it.A-Ram: we don't see any detaineesinfo-icon, so we continue to Qalandiya.15:30, Qalandiya South:Two soldiers in the hut, not asking anyone to stop.An angry man approaches from the north:" get rid of these checkpoints...."We continue north. On our left , in the checkpoint area there, is a big highway sign [about road safety]: SLOW DOWN! IN 1996, 18 PEOPLE WERE HURT IN THIS JUNCTION.It is very foggy. Half way to Qalandiya North, there is an obstacle blocking the way. The soldiers put new metal poles, rapped with barbed wire and rope. People have to go right in order to pass this blockage, exposed to the elements, and go around a small hill that is there.Ihab, commander of the checkpoint, explains why this is needed: "Don't you understand that 2000 people passing here can stab us in the back?"To preserve what appears to be yet another way to harass people, one of the soldiers is in charge of making sure no one passes through the new blockage. It starts to rain (so people have to go around it and get wet).The line is very long. There are two volunteers on duty, checking IDs.One man, who is very cold, says that he is a teacher in Ramallah and have a teacher's ID card. The volunteer takes it away, claiming that it is forged. The teacher asks for it back, but the volunteer will not give it back, not even if the man passes his right to cross the checkpoint.We tried to talk to the volunteer, who yelled at the man: "You are a liar, this is a forged ID!""How do you know?" we asked him."That's why I am here....I don't care....Get out of here!" and he pushes the man northward.Maybe we did not fight hard enough. The rain is already heavy. It is coming down like stones. People who were checked and were allowed to go southward have to go out to the rain because of the new pole and barbed wire construction: for a moment they stand there: surprised and angry, but then go out to the rain anyway.There is still a soldier making sure no one passes there. Not even an old limping lady or a woman with a babyinfo-icon. It was hard to see and believe.Suddenly we hear shooting. On the path between the old airport and Qalandiya there is a military jeep and soldiers shooting, as usual, towards Qalandiya. At least one soldier is aiming at body height, towards kids that maybe through stones and are running away. We try calling the Humanitarian Center [note to mWatchers: Whoever is replacing Na'ama?] and leave a message. I was very upset when I called and yelled at the soldier that answered the phone. He threatens to hang up and then passes the call to "Mivzta'im"[Operations]: "Are you sure?....did you see or just hear about it?..."There is no trust in our report. No one really cares. It is only soldiers shooting at children.The Asa'ad family confirms that there are shootings. They say it is the same story every afternoon.They think no one was hurt.The shooting stops for a while but start again. I run to the Asa'ad family house and find 6 soldiers, legs spread, looking at me. They did not shoot me.Ruti says that with their telescope they see me , so they don't shoot. The Asia's family calm me down and offers me some soup. When I leave the house, the jeep is gone.When I go back to the checkpoint there is a long line of cars waiting. Maybe one hundred.A man with a Palestinian "Territories" ID, accompanied by a man with a blue ID is on his way to M'qassed hospital to get a permit for his son who needs an operation. "Let him wait..." they say at the checkpoint. At the Humanitarian Center they say they only help if it is a case of life and death. Finally he is let by.Many people are standing in the rain. We beg the soldiers to let them pass, but the answer is no!We left a bit after 5:00 PM, with a helpless feeling, like sculpturing in water, like there is nothing to hold on to, like there is darkness everywhere.At the Qalandiya South checkpoint there is a big traffic jam. Fortunately, the soldiers don't like the rain either, so no one is there to 're-organize and re-educate'.