Qalandiya

May-27-2003
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At Ar-Ram checkpoint around 3:45 there
were 2 detained Palestinians standing in the cell-like part of the
"hut" which houses the soldiers on duty. On our way back,
around 7 o’clock, they were gone. The checkpoint was not very busy,
yet noisy and dusty, as construction work was going on the road.
Pedestrians heading south were checked by two soldiers pointing a
sub machine gun at them. A jeep (boarder police?) was standing on
the side road but no detaineesinfo-icon were in sight. Around the corner, a
Palestinian was waiting for the jeep to go away so that he can
proceed to his home.

At Qalandya a little past 5 o’clock there were about 15 detainees
caught at the quarry where they were trying to avoid the
checkpoint. Some said they have been waiting for over an hour to
get back their IDs. The next hunt at the quarry, around 6 o’clock,
when we were still there, seemed less successful: no one seems to
have been caught then. The checkpoint was very busy. a long line of
cars moved steadily but slowly. The wait for cars was at least one
hour. Ambulances in both directions went through after a short
check. There were dozens of pedestrians moving through in the usual
procedure handled by 3 or 4 volunteers (men and women). In the
booth 5 or 6 soldiers were on guard at the pedestrian lines (among
them soldiers who seem to be going through the experience of a
checkpoint for the first time. They seem confused , do not know any
of the regulations, and are less rude. It is another day of closureinfo-icon
(third or forth in a row). Only blue IDs could pass. Permits are
not respected during a closure. This is extremely frustrating to
those people who spend hours and days waiting on line for their
permit, and then it becomes irrelevant. The commander of the
checkpoint was Gal. We asked him about the IDs which were reported
to collect there with no people claiming them. He did not think
there will be any at the end of the day. The novelty (to me, at
least) was the presence of an extra lane - alongside the ordinary
pedestrian lines, but outside the concrete blocks, which enclose
the regular lines. This was the lane for the special requests of
those people who were not allowed in the regular lines, and some
who calculated it will be shorter than standing in the very long
line. The soldier responding to these special requests acted with a
lot of personal authority ("I am the one who decides")
but not inattentive to requests. Those who stuck on for a long time
ended up making it south of the checkpoint. At a certain point this
soldier let everybody go through, exclaiming he is too tired to
deal with it. He never checked any of the baggage, luggage or what
not. On our way back we saw the yellow transits parked at the
entrance of the quarry. We also saw quite a number of people who
successfully made it through the quarry.