'Atara, Qalandiya, Sun 2.11.08, Afternoon
Givati soldiers carried out meticulous inspection of vehicles that arrived from all four directions -- those coming from Ramallah and going to it, and all vehicles arriving from the village of Atara (from north of the checkpoint) and to travellers from the eastern sides at the end of the village of Bir Zeit. The check of one vehicle took about 7 minutes.
There were long lines of vehicles winding like a serpent around the area in front of the checkpoint. we counted 20 vehicles in the line leaving Ramallah and 70 going to the city. From the end of the line to the beginning took about 30 minutes.
The driver of a vehicle which belongs to the hospital in Ramallah was transporting an old man who was released from the hospital. He said, now the situation is quiet, not even a stone is being thrown. Rather than making things easier on us, they are making it harder. The old man added, "only after I die will things be better".
The commander of the checkpoint, and one of his soldiers, tried to restrict our movements by placing us in a restricted corner to stand in. We refused. He called the police. After a few minutes, we heard him angrily say that the police are not coming (how will they come?) He was also angry that we were speaking with the Palestinians and were causing delays in movement. We were causing the delays -- not the checkpoints!) We pointed out to him the line of dozens of vehicles that were waiting and he blamed it on the instructions that he received regarding a suspect vehicle. Randomly, soldiers were stopping transits, making the passengers who were returning from a long day's work get out, and making them stand in a straight line to have their i.d.'s checked by a computer.
A Palestinian driver stopped and delivered blessings to Roni for peace. The commander was shocked and aroused his curiosity. "You two know each other?, as if Jews and Arabs are not meant to know each other. From that point on, he was interested in engaging us in conversation, and as his interest in us continued with us in friendly manner, the pace of passage sped up, the lines were shorter, vehicles that were stopped were sent to a special lane so as not to impede traffice. In contrast, his friend said that we were only interested in the good of the Arabs. "These are human beings. They blow up their bodies. They are animals". Thus the soldier summarized his view of the world. The commander contended that we do not provide the goods to those who benefit us. You have to come with cameras and video and photograph, he agreed. We agreed and explained that we don't have video cameras.