Qalandiya

May-24-2003
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7:15AM: A bad and difficult morning at
Qalandya. We arrived during the "rush hour" for school
children. We found the soldiers chasing back the children, who
usually are allowed to pass out of line. A very long queue of
people were waiting and hardly advancing. All was conducted in
terrible disorder, one soldier not knowing what the other is saying
or doing. Then the commander appeared, and closed the checkpoint on
both sides declaring with a megaphone that it was due to closureinfo-icon in
Ramallah. This was not confrimed by Roni Numa's office. Apparently,
the commander closed the checkpoint simply because he didn't know
how to handle the situation. He then took his time and came to
chase us out of the place, saying: "This is my territory, and
I decide whom to let stay here, exactly as I do on my home
territory". He refused to identify himself. To our guest he
later said: "And also because I am a fascist". He
threatened to arrest us if we didn't leave. We withdrew without
much argument. The checkpoint closing caused even a bigger mess
when within minutes, hundreds of people stood waiting on both
sides. When it was opened again about 20 minutes later, a big mass
of people headed north, bumping into the schoolchildren coming
south. We learned meanwhile that the soldiers were brought here
from officers training course, and maybe that's why they were
trying their best to behave humanely and fairly to the
Palestinians. Back north the queue was advancing very slowly, as
the soldiers were checking the documents very thourougly. There
were maybe 300 people, and the shed was not big enough to protect
them all from the sun. After most of the people had been processed,
two soldiers and a jeep headed to the quarry, and we saw the
Palestinians running to escape them. We heard shooting, and after a
while, the soldiers came back alone. The Palestinians we talked to
were very desperate and angry. Some men were waiting for their Ids,
which had been confiscated randomly on the road. One of the decent
soldiers approached, and told them politely that he will do his
best not to hold them for a long time.