Qalandiya

Nov-8-2003
|

M. S., V. B.

8AM, Qalandiya South, a slowly moving mess of traffic. A que of
people towards

Ramallah - the entrance was converted into a narrow path, several
soldiers at the entrance

to the path, stopping people at random (the favorites seemed young
men in black

sweaters) for a more thorough checkup of bags and IDs. The checkup
seemed to be a matter

of 15 some minutes. Qalandiya North - short two queues (Palestinian
and blue IDs).

The CP was manned by young soldiers and older volunteers. The
atmosphere was polite

but firm, no empathy apparent. The young officer was of the
legalist

variety. Notified us that a day before our state kindly lowered age
limit to 35/45(women/men)

in honor of a Ramadan Friday, but today orders as usual, back to
45/50. Students were requested

permits in addition to student IDs, a ruling in effect supposedly
since the Haifa bombing.

The officer was bent on performing the orders to the letter.

Two men were detained for trying to cross around the CP (one J-m
ID, another PA - student

going to Abu Dis). A man from Anata was prevented from going home -
"he should have seen the warning".

The warning at the entrance - on an iron post, in Arabic,
apparently stated that if

you go to Ramallah you will not be allowed to return, without a
permit. (People kept bumping into

this post.)

To my efforts to convince the officer to bend the rules a bit, e.g.
release the detained before the

10AM verdict, the young man responded with utter conviction that in
"Tel Aviv, you also have to

obey the law, e.g. if they catch you using the mobile in the car
you pay 700 NIS. And I did not

give them a fine or beat them up, this is the only punishment I
have to enforce the law."

I tried to explain him this is not Tel Aviv and that these people
have a hard life and that this

CP is a terrible place for them. "Terrible?" - the
officer was genuinely surprised.

At the checkpoint exit towards Jerusalem there was a rav-samal, who
spoke to Palestinians very

sternly, mostly in Hebrew with an Arabic accent. He was a kind of
an appeal agency, and seemed

to be a good soul. Apart from the stern speeches, he tried to do
what he can for the passers by.

At Ar-Ram, very quiet. Magav at the CP, and on the roundabout path
below.

A middle aged woman trying desperately to get in, through a
check-point, and around it, and being

returned again and again.