Ar-Ram, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Rafat (Bir Nabala), Sun 23.3.08, Afternoon
A-Ram CP: Impressive presence of soldiers and civilian security
personnel. Absence of Palestinians.
16:09 Qalandiya: About 50 people were waiting before the northern carousel and we could see through the fence that lines in the two interior passageways that were operating were full. We had just arrived
and begun to sniff out what was happening when suddenly another passageway was opened and the whole crowd at the northern entrance flowed into the CP.
Examining the notices pasted on the CP walls we found one announcing the opening of a post office in Kufr Aqeb. (As I wrote this down in my notebook, a suspicious soldier shouted at me over the PA system:
"What are you writing?")
16:14: Approximately 25 people were waiting in each of the CP lines. The carousels were
allowing three people at a time to enter the examination area. No one else was allowed to enter until the first three had left. It took an average of 3 minutes to check the papers of each threesome.
We joined the lines and passed through the CP to get to the vehicle checkpoint. Traffic was moving as usual with no particular disruptions. From afar we could that there was a long line of cars at Atarot CP,
but the line more or less disappeared within 10 minutes.
16:40: Returning to the pedestrian passages, we found that only two were operating and that the northern entrance was once again closed. We clocked the waiting time before the northern entrance at 10 minutes with an additional ten minutes wait to enter Passageway No.1, for a total waiting time of ca.
20 minutes in the CP. But just about then, the computer in Passageway No. 2 fell and the people in line continued to wait about 30 minutes in the heat and crowded conditions without receiving any explanation
for the delay. (Why wasn't the PA system used to tell them?) After several phone calls to the "Humanitarian Hotline" (where we were told that that they weren't interested, because of the closure which precluded passage of Palestinians holding green P.A. ID cards, and wouldn't get involved for those holding blue Israeli ID cards) and to CP headquarters, a third line was opened and then the computer in Passageway No. 4 revived, so three lines were operating.
In general, the closure appeared to be enforced selectively because I myself saw people with green ID cards and permits allowed to pass. A man who had not been allowed through approached me. He claimed that he had been allowed through the CP in the morning and only now in the afternoon had been denied entry.
He complained that the soldiers generally treated Palestinians in an insulting manner, especially so when the soldiers were female.
18:00: Bir Nabala: A long line of 29 vehicles was waiting. Our guest and I got out of the car and walked down the line counting. We stationed ourselves opposite the soldiers. The line began to move a bit faster.
We discovered that people whose ID cards stated their place of residence as Hebron and Nablus were not being allowed to enter Bir Nabala. (Tamar quoted one CP soldier describing the above as "a dumb order":
everyone knows that many people from Hebron and Nablus have moved into Bir Nabala where rents have dropped dramatically because the original residents abandoned the town after it was encircled by the Wall.)
Drivers on their way to Ramallah complained to us that lines at this CP are generally much longer and that conditions only improved when observers from MachsomWatch were present. There were 25 vehicles
waiting in line when we left.
17:20: Lil: There were no lines and traffic was moving unimpeded.
19:43: Hizmeh: A Red Crescent Ambulance had been waiting 40 minutes to take a woman from
Hizmeh village to give birth in Mukassad Hospital in Jerusalem. Dalia Bassa (the IDF officer coordinating such problems) said that the woman didn't have a permit. It turned out that the woman (mother of two with contractions every three minutes whose amniotic sack had broken), lying in her husband's car not 10 meters from the ambulance, was not allowed to transfer to the ambulance in spite of the fact that the three crew members swore that they had the skills and the equipment necessary to deliver the baby safely in their vehicle.
We began making telephone calls and that seemed to do the trick – the woman was shortly allowed to transfer to the ambulance. But then Yael S. (MW coordinator for hospitalization) told us that the woman had requested permission a week ago to give birth in Jerusalem and had been told that the "Shabak" (Israel's General Security Forces) had refused permission and that, since there were no medical complications, she would have to give birth at one of the hospitals in Ramallah (a 30-40 minute drive over bumpy roads from her home). (Yael suggested that we get the husband's version of the story but we failed to do so.)
In spite of the fact that the ambulance crew recommended that the husband transfer his wife to the Ramallah hospital in a Palestinian ambulance, in view of the practical certainty that she would give birth en route,
he refused to do so and decided to take her to Ramallah in his own car.