Ar-Ram, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 13.1.08, Afternoon
A-Ram CP: There were no Palestinians at the CP, on foot or
in vehicles. The gate in the Wall was closed and we detoured through
the back streets of A-Ram.
15:15 Qalandiya: Two pedestrian
passages (3 & 4) were operating with only a few people in each.
The passageway to the DCO and the Government offices (5) was closed.
Lizi contacted the DCO offices and the soldiers were instructed to open
the passage. No one was waiting in the DCO shed but we could see
that 2 or 3 were waiting inside the offices. The Government offices
were completely deserted. We asked the postman why the post office
branch was closed last week at 15:30 (although it's supposed to remain
open until 16:00). He said that perhaps the post office had closed
early because no one had come for service for hours. Time and
again we have observed that the soldiers close the passageway so that
people in need of service in the post office (or other offices in the
building) cannot reach them.
Leaving the Government offices we emerged
into the parking lot and returned to the CP. The lines had grown
considerably longer but two passageways were still operating.
A local man approached us with a young woman who needed help.
The woman and her husband, residents of Gaza, had received a one day
permit to reach the hospital in Ramallah. The woman had been released
on Jan. 10 when closure prevailed in honor of Pres. Bush so they could
not return home. Only on Jan. 13th did they apply for
a new permit that would allow them to return to Gaza, and of course
there were problems. I accompanied the woman into the DCO and
heard the explanations offered by Assaf and Husam (DCO representative)
saying that the proper procedure requires that they apply for a permit
at the Palestinian DCO in Ramallah (which performs liaison with the
Erez CP) and afterwards go to receive the permit in Bet El. The
woman, a mother of three, was in despair but she followed Assaf who
promised to release her husband who was being held in the interrogation
room in passageway 3. When I returned to the passageways I was
once again approached by the same local man with two more residents
of Gaza in tow. The two were an old father suffering from pancreatic
cancer accompanied by his son. They also had received a one day
permit to reach the hospital in Ramallah. The father had been
released on Sunday morning and they were trying to return home that
afternoon. This time the authorities forewent their insistence
on proper procedures, because the father looked as though he would not
last that long. A call to the humanitarian hotline lit a fire
under the soldiers in the DCO office who received permission to do the
impossible and issue a permit within the hour. Husam was also
very helpful and, when he heard that the father had not had a bite to
eat all day, ran off and returned bringing a tray-full of food.
It would be wonderful if people could be this helpful all the time.
Because I spent so much time in the DCO,
Lizi was left to cover the CP on her own. Here's her report:
15:42 - The violent young fellow (whom
we see at Qalandiya very often) tried to enter the pedestrian passageways
of the CP. The soldier at the entrance locked the carousel (…so
I breathed easier). Several dozen people were waiting to pass.
Two passageways were operating. Waiting time was ca. 10 minutes.
A soldier giving instructions over the PA system spoke quietly (which
means there was no distortion and he could be understood).
15:59 - The vehicle passageways:
From time to time soldiers stop trucks heading for Ramallah to check
papers and loads. Although each such examination takes only from
one to two minutes, the result is a long line of vehicles which is freed
every time a truck is released.
A female soldier from the canine search
unit was present but there was no sign of any dogs.
The view to Atarot Industrial Park showed
a long line of vehicles waiting at the CP there. Passage was apparently
very slow. It was difficult to tell what was happening at this
distance but it was easy to see that the line was growing longer all
16:24 – I returned to the pedestrian
passageways and the violent young fellow noticed me and called to me.
I tried to slip away into the CP but this time he managed to follow,
jumped the lines and entered the examination area, poked into the x-ray
machine and came out again. I stayed in line and went through
to the vehicle area once again. Passage took only one or two minutes
as the CP was almost empty.
17:04 – An ambulance arrived from Ramallah
with a one-year old lying unconscious and connected to all kinds of
pipes. He was transferred to an Israeli ambulance to be taken
At this point I could no longer feel
my feet – they weren't even cold, just completely frozen. It's
cold not just because the sun has set and the temperature has dropped
even further, it's cold because it's Qalandiya. It's cold because
of all the hungry and neglected children we can see there.
On the way to Bir Nabala we saw groups
of youngsters crowding around a small campfire in the middle of the
square trying to get warm.
17:10: Back out to the pedestrian
passageways. Now, when people are leaving work and hurrying home
in the cold of evening, only one passageway is working. The line
for passageway 4 is very long. We phoned the humanitarian hotline
and they promised to do something. We didn't wait to see but drove
to Bir Nabala.
17:45: Bir Nabala: The unit
manning the CP opened two checking lanes so vehicles were passing rapidly
with no delays. There was no residency criterion in place for
entering the town – anyone could.
18:15: Lil CP: A line of
20 vehicles waited in the uphill lane to pass through Lil but the delay
was not very long. We asked the soldiers if Israeli's were allowed
to pass through towards Qalandiya and they said that passage was permitted
and the soldiers were just making sure that Israeli's were aware that
the road went to Ramallah (off-limits for Israeli's).