Qalandiya

Jun-3-2003
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Curfew in Ramallah, some of the
checkpoints are closed according to the news on Israeli radio. we
don’t know what to expect. As we did not yet have the report of
Monday shift, we fell upon the blocked fence in Neve Yaakov and had
to go around.

16:00 at Ar-Ram checkpoint, border policemen are checking very few
pedestrians but quite a few cars (a wait of about 20 minutes) going
south. A border police jeep on the side street west of the CP
awaits Palestinians who go around to avoid the regular checkpoint.
We did not see detaineesinfo-icon at either point. We arrived at Qalandya at
the very same time Abu Sukar, released from prison, was received
there by family and followers. Hafez was there to explain the
reason for the big happening with lots of cameras (including some
soldiers who left their post for a minute and took pictures), music
by local drummers of all ages, the released prisoner was held up by
the crowd and escorted through the checkpoint. For a while there
was a lot of tension in the air. soldiers were running about with
rifles pointed at the celebrating crowd. We even heard a shot, but
it mingled with the music. On the crossroad, about Qalandya
checkpoint south, few metres in the Jaba’a direction, the road is
blocked for vehicles in both directions and 4 soldiers are checking
pedestrians. The soldiers tell us willingly the most recent
instructions they have got last evening and will last for two days:
only yellow plate cars can pass, pedestrians with blue ID, all
women, men over age 60 and all children. The version we got a
little later from the soldiers at the north end of the checkpoint
had it a little different: men and women above 50 are allowed to
pass. They seem to be strict with their instructions, but, as
usual, there are other ways to get by, if you are lucky. Not
everyone is lucky. There were about 10 detainees, waiting for their
IDs which were confiscated while they tried to circumvent the
checkpoint. At 17:30 the IDs were returned, some were not claimed
at that time. Among the returned IDs there was a blue one. The
soldier explained: "all confiscations are for irregular
conduct". About 10 soldiers at work but not many pedestrians
are passing. Checking is slow, as if more strict, or perhaps more
nervous. About 15 people who were denied passage hang around
waiting for a right moment to retry. Some of them have been trying
for days to return south to their home. Several asked for our help.
a call to the Moked as well as to Naama at the Regional Army
command, did not help. Instructions are tight. 2 ambulances, one in
each direction, were let pass while we were there. When we arrived
at the checkpoint, Dave, a volunteer, told us that yesterday the
checkpoint closed at around 13:00 and "as a result there was
an eruption which looked like war" . . in the evening, at
20:00, they opened the checkpoint and let women, old people and
blue IDs pass. The commander of the checkpoint, Nadav, did not like
the sight of us talking with Dave and came forward to recite his
speech: we are disturbing the work and endangering the soldiers.
The area of the checkpoint should stay sterileinfo-icon, we can not stand
there nor can we speak with the soldiers. Nadav acted belligerently
toward us and claimed he is not interested in the arrangements and
agreements we have worked out with army command. He also mentioned
the tension in the checkpoint caused by the release of prisoners.
it was very difficult to negotiate with any of the soldiers as the
spirit was very antagonistic towards both Palestinians and us. To
top it all we had a speech from a young Palestinian whose passage
was denied and , like others, he hangs around hoping for change of
guards, or change of instructions. The gist of his understanding of
the situation (eternal hatred of Jews for Moslems, hopeless
struggle for Palestinians, the nonsense of our, Machsom Watch
women, work and more and more) left me speechless.