Qalandiya

Jun-20-2003
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Ar-Ram: Down by the Western parallel
road things were relatively good - perhaps because there weren't a
lot of people in the first place. The two BP in charge were
unusually flexible. An elderly man with a US passport but without a
valid visa was allowed to pass after a short discussion. Up on the
main street, things were handled in a more characteristic way: Even
the elderly and infirm were sent back, and absolutely none without
a permit was allowed to enter. One of the BP seemed to particularly
enjoy roaring like an animal at people trying to pass unchecked on
the other side of the street, talking to people disrespectfully and
harshly, shoving them back and even taunting them. We complained. A
little while later, a senior officer arrived -- our complaint? He
was not overly forthcoming, either, reiterating that absolutely
none without a valid permit could pass. Nevertheless, he displayed
somewhat more common sense and flexibility than his juniors. We
tried, unsuccessfully, to help a man whose passport, as well as his
mobile phone and driver's license, were recently confiscated near
Atarot.

Qalanya: But for one soldier at the vantage point at the Northern
end, who used his telescopic rifle sight to scan the area, we saw
nobody engaging in threatening or dangerous behaviour. We even had
the rare joy of encountering two soldiers who explicitly stated
their discomfort not only about their presence at the checkpoint
but also the checkpoints themselves. Perhaps due to the fact that
the number of people wishing to pass was low, so was tension.
Several couples with insufficient documents asked to cross. If the
man had a valid permit and the woman did not, they were allowed to
pass, but not vice versa. In general, adherence to the rules of the
day (the hour?) was strict. A young man tried to get back to his
home in the Al-Far'a refugee camp (between Nablus and Jenin). His
uncle had just died, thus adding urgency to his request.
Apparently, there is no way to get there from North of Qalandya,
but there are cabs going there from the Southern end. Our attempts
at helping him remained unsuccessful.