Ar-Ram, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 20.7.08, Afternoon
15:00 A-Ram CP: No Palestinians at the checkpoint.
15:08 Qalandiya: Three passageways, were operating when we arrived, 2,3 and 4. The CP was not crowded and pedestrian traffic was flowing. In spite of the fact that conditions were reasonable, we did find several problems. A young woman with a newborn infant in her arms and pulling a huge heavy suitcase was trying to exit the CP going back towards Ramallah. We phoned to request that they open the "Humanitarian Gate" for her but our request was refused. Somehow, several people standing near her (including the MachsomWatch team) came to her aid and maneuvered the suitcase through the carousel and along the narrow cage attached to it back to the northern waiting shed.
We also met Taysir A-M-M, a resident of Gaza who was trying to get a permit from the Qalandiya DCO allowing him to return home to Gaza. The man, a cancer patient who had been treated in Jordan, had suffered an attack on his trip home and found himself hospitalized in Nablus. Now, on his release, he was trying to complete his journey. We phoned Abu Rukun, the DCO representative, who shepherded him through Passageway 5, where he was briefly questioned by the Shin Bet, to the DCO offices.
15:53: One passageway was closed leaving two active. A line was beginning to form in the northern shed at the entrance to the pedestrian CP. Waiting in the line was a group of young medical students, all women, from a variety of European countries. The group had been visiting hospitals and medical facilities in the West Bank and their impression was that conditions were very poor.
16:10: We passed through the CP and went to visit the vehicle CP. There were no lines and traffic appeared to be flowing. On the other hand, from afar we could see that the lines at Atarot CP were very long, reaching the horizon. We returned to the pedestrian CP.
16:30: Another passageway had been closed, leaving only one active passageway (just as the traffic from Ramallah to Jerusalem was getting heavier). From the northern shed we could see that about 30 people were waiting in the one passageway operating while another 30 to 40 were waiting in line in the northern shed. At this point a group of about 20 teenagers arrived, boys and girls each pulling a huge heavy valise. They joined the line in the shed. The group was on its way to a summer camp in the USA run by the "Seeds of Peace" organization. We couldn't understand how the whole group would make it through the carousels with their valises. We phoned Qalandiya Headquarters and asked them to open the "Humanitarian Gate" for them. After some 15 minutes Abu Rukun appeared together with Shaul the Policeman (whose appearance generally correlates strongly with problems at the CP). The "Gate" was opened and the group entered the CP but Abu Rukun and Shaul did not accompany them any further so they had to maneuver through the carousels in the passageway.
While we were in the northern shed, we met Taysir M' again. He told us that Abu R' had told him to bring a new release letter from the Nablus hospital and that he, Abu Rukun, would phone him when his permit was ready. (Yesterday, Monday, Taysir was still running from Nablus to Ramallah trying to get a permit allowing him to go home. Today, Tuesday, he was told that perhaps his permit would be ready at 2 PM.)
17:11: Only one passageway was open and the line in the northern shed was growing longer and longer. We phoned Hannan who promised to open another passageway.
17:15: Another passageway was opened. At this point about 70 people were waiting on line in the northern shed. We phoned Abu Rukun who shouted at us to stop bothering him. Although the lines in the 2 passageways had grown much shorter, the soldier on duty at the northern CP entrance did not let anyone through the carousel into the CP. The soldier had draped himself comfortably over two chairs, an MP3 earplug firmly in place, and was floating in another world oblivious to what was happening around him. After we called to him for quite a long while, he suddenly returned to reality, looked around and began to work.
17:27: We left Qalandiya for Rafat CP. There we stood in a line of 12 vehicles that passed through the CP in a matter of minutes. The soldiers on duty told us that everyone was allowed through, no restrictions.
18:00: Lil CP, traffic was flowing smoothly.