Qalandiya, יום ד' 9.7.08, אחה"צ

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Place: 
Observers: 
Hanna T' and Ivonne M'ch
Jul-9-2008
|
Afternoon
16:00 - 18:30

This report describes what we saw on 9.7.2008 and refers to the report from Qalandiya on the morning of
8.7.08.

The more the checkpoint is "improved" bythe addition of areas to pen people in and human cages, the more the presenceof soldiers on site is reduced. Theresult is that there's no way to deal with unusual circumstances, emergenciesand humanitarian problems. During our
entire shift at the pedestrian passage, the only soldiers we saw were in theinspection passageways. Civilian guardspatrolled outside the fences and looked for suspicious objects, but paid noattention to the many Palestinians who waited at the checkpoint.

The lack of anyone to speak with was made obvious at16:40 when a girl arrived at the checkpoint in a wheelchair, accompanied by hersister and brother.

The wheelchair is too wide to go through the newbarred cages. The booth at the entry
turnstile wasnot manned (during our entire shift), so there wasnot anyone whocould open the humanitarian gate. One ofthe accompanying family members went into the checkpoint area hoping to findsomeone there who would open the gate, but for naught. The intercom button also didn't lead to any
solution.

After waiting ten minutes, uncertainly, the brotherand sister go with the chair over to the vehicle checkpoint. A soldier yells at them from the watchtowernext to the open area, "Go back, goback." The girl in the wheelchairinsists upon continuing. They enter thevehicle checkpoint and are stopped by all the guards. A captain arrives who introduces himself as
the DCO representative. He demands thatthe brother and sister go back to the pedestrian checkpoint, and promises tosend someone to open the humanitarian gate.
At 17:00 a civilian employee opens the gate.

At 17:20 we meet the sister who accompanied the girlin the wheelchair. Her phone fell out
during her journey through inspection passageway number 1 where her belongingswere checked. The passageway is closednow, and we're waiting for someone to come open it. At 17:35 two soldiers arrive and openpassageway number 1 inorder to retrieve the phone that fell. People waiting on line in passageway number 4 run over to passagewaynumber one, but it closes again. Theyare forced to return to passageway number 4, having already lost their placeson line.

At 17:55 the sister went through passageway number4.

It took an hour and a quarter for the people with awheelchair to pass through the checkpoint. An hour and aquarter of degradation, uncertainty, helplessness and perhaps even physicalpain. An hourand a quarter in Qalandya cage.

At 17:50 two soldiers come to check the premises. They enter the entry booth near the first
turnstiles, leave, Everyone runs over from passageway number 4to passageway number 1. It isn't open,and doesn't open. Everyone returns topassageway number 4. Tricked the
Palestinians! one of them calls over to the crownin Arabic, "Passageway number 1 is open."

The report about Qalandiyafrom the morning of 8.7.08 was written by experienced, veteran activists, andtherefore is worth paying special attention to. It says: "There were about 600 people on line, and ittook an average of three quarters of an hour for someone to pass through. We asked many who were waiting what they thoughtof the new arrangements, and they all said that they made passage mucheasier."

The description that the activists chose toimmortalize in their report raised many questions for us:

1. When didwe stop protesting the existence of the checkpoints and started worrying that
they be more efficient?

2. When didwe stop seeing the checkpoints' oppressive mechanisms as evil, and started
seeing the innovations (the barred cages) as something positive? After all, the cages were created to"solve" problems created by the very existence of the
checkpoint. How is it even possible toget enthusiastic about the fact that a person has to walk through this cagedpassage, 55-60 cm.wide and about four meters long?

3. How validare the answers given by Palestinians, who want to get through the checkpoint,
to questions asked by those who could potentially ease their passage or make itmore difficult? What do the Palestiniansbeing asked think our role is?

4. Quotingindividual answers, without describing the broader context in which the
checkpoint exists, the dehumanization it expresses, the dependence of thePalestinians on the authorities, and the occupation as a whole, distorts anddeceives, and should act as a warning.
After seven years of activity it seems that we also have gotten used tothe "situation," and we have to urgently reanalyze the human andpolitical reality in which we're living.

 

We must ask ourselves and the occupation authoritieswhy 600 workers must crowd into a checkpoint and wait for almost an hour everymorning in order to get to work (if he is lucky and gets through on time). Rather than praising the temporary mechanismsthat are invented each time to "ease" and perpetuate this greatinjustice, we must protest more loudly.