Qalandiya

Observers: 
Hekon Habila, Eva Mensse, Rachel Kushner - writers and guests of "Breaking the Silence" - and Hanna Barag (reporting); Translator: Louise Levi
14/04/2016
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Morning

A Black Day at Qalandiya

Somebody, somewhere, "made a mistake" and tens if not hundreds of work permits were confiscated from the Palestinians. Consequently, the "dangerous" persons had to be separated from the "not dangerous" ones, a task just as complicated as the Entebbe raid. Hundreds of people turned to us to complain and to ask for help - but what could we do?  The Palestinians couldn't control their fury and frustration and neither could I. Never before, since I started visiting the checkpoint at Qalandiya many years ago, had I been scared, but now there were moments when I was afraid. I felt as if I was choking!

04:00  Many pedestrians from the direction of road 443 managed to cross the moment the checkpoint opened. The line reached the edge of the roofed area, but it took only 20 minutes to cross. There was hot coffee and bagel and everything looked like any other day at Qalandiya.

05:00  The line was longer and those whose permits had been confiscated began to appear. I thought there were just a few people and wrote down their ID numbers. After fifteen minutes I realized that the number of people was so large that it was useless to collect their ID cards.

05:30  The guests arrived and they became the focus of attention. Only after 45 minutes, did those who had not been let through, appear. They pushed the guests a little to the side to "attack" me. The fury and frustration almost caused me a "heart attack".

06:15  The rude lady from the DCO arrived: "Get out of here, you're interfering, go to your friends, I'll call the police, don't try to teach me my job." The security guard, who wanted to be part of the action, interrupted her using such an offensive language that she seemed almost polite compared to him. The policeman who evidently knew me advised them "to leave her alone because she's dangerous" – so if you didn't know that I'm dangerous, now you do! There is proof, the policeman said so.

We stayed at Qalandiya until 8 o'clock. My guests managed to talk with some of the people waiting in the fenced-off areas, but they were interrupted each time the turnstile opened. Once in a while, it's good to see what Qalandiya looks like, and what the occupation looks like to people who are exposed to the atrocities for the first time.