Qalandiya

Nov-12-2003
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Observers: I. M, D. Y, R. B, O.A, L. F, A. K

Qalandya South - When we first arrive, there is overwhelming
traffic, cars seem to be crawling on top of each other, people
shouting, swearing, then 'alas', two army vehicles get caught in
the traffic... soldiers rush out, everything immediately halts,
cars submissively retreat to open up a space, and a paved 'Jewish
path' is established. The army can 'safely pass'. Then the open
route evaporates into thin air and the previous convoluted 'swirl'
is resumed.

Two transit drivers whose cars were confiscated a month before are
waiting to get them back since 9am they say. The soldiers tell them
to wait. When we are about to leave, they have just got the
transits back. They say the car radio and money are missing.

Qalandya North - A woman (no permit) with a note confirming she has
been to see a doctor in Ramalla on her way home is not allowed
through. So one of us tries her luck with another soldier, to no
avail, finally I. tries with a third, and this time with the same
unexpected arbitrariness the woman is allowed to pass.

A lame man with crutches is stopped by the soldier, not allowed
through. Why doesn't he have a permit, demands the soldier, I.
interferes and says this was a humanitarian case. Alright
interrupts the soldier, but why doesn't he have a permit....
Eventually the man was made to role up his pants.... his artificial
leg is exposed, and his other damaged one too... still the soldier
won't relent... by now the other soldiers interfere as well, scolds
the soldier, pressing him to allow the man to pass.... which he
finally does.

Two young men, after being denied entry are standing on the side,
waiting.... One has a valid permit but for the Jericho area, the
other one who is on his way back after having committed his mother
in a hospital in Ramalla, who stood in line to be checked but
apparently when he arrived at the booths no one turned to him, so
he didn't linger and ask to be checked, but rather went through.
They see that as suspicious... so his ID was taken away and
supposedly is being checked. We arrive at the volunteer, heavy
American accent, and after making various phone calls as to the
validity of the young man's permit he allows him to pass. But he
stays waiting for his friend. As for his friend, the one whose ID
was taken from him, we begin our pleading quest. It was checked
they claim, it takes time... After a while we try again, Jericho is
still at least two hours away for them, trying to speed up the
process... refused angrily and rudely by two soldiers we arrive at
the third, who goes to see about the ID but it turns out it isn't
at the checkpoint.... and that it was never checked in the first
place....

The young men describes the soldier who took the ID, and we could
see the description fits someone they know, (Almog??), who
apparently just went to the base as they had just changed shifts.
Still the checkpoint commander says soldiers don't take IDs, he is
lying, that 'they' always lie, and why do you always believe
'them'... we ask him please to call and find out... one says he had
called... not to ask anymore because it takes time.... time
passes.... we ask again... the same answer.... the loudspeaker from
the Mosque indicates the fasting can be broken, we serve them
water.... we plead again.... It turns out no phone call to the base
was ever made, that during the last hour at least that they claimed
that they were waiting for an answer the call was never made.
Finally a call is made. A higher officer approached us, Nadav,
telling us to stand behind the plastic barriers (the New Jersey)...
that because of us people manage to escape... that he is worried
for our safety... that the soldiers behave correctly.... all who
were (according to the 'law') allowed to pass... there was no need
for us any more.... He says we make his soldiers nervous, because
they feel we are against them, so they resent us, and this only
harms the purpose for which we are there... That he reads our
reports.... If you really want to help the Palestinians says one
(while pointing at the yellow sign saying that even if one passed
with no permit it doesn't mean they can return) stand here all day
and make sure they read the sign.

We finally leave. At 6.30 I spoke to the young man who told me he
was informed they had just located the soldier, found the ID and
that it was on its way back to the checkpoint. It was around 8.30pm
when he received his ID. However he was not allowed to pass.