'Atara, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Mon 24.11.08, Afternoon
At this hour at Atara there were no lines at all, and contrary to what
we saw last week, there were no spiky tire traps laid on the road out
of the village. The soldiers had organized the CP so that there
were three passages in operation: one for traffic into Bir Zeit,
one for traffic leaving Bir Zeit and one for traffic out of Atara Village.
Traffic was flowing and there were no apparent problems.
We left after a 15-minute visit.
On our way to Qalandiya we detoured to
visit Beit El, a big settlement draped over several hilltops with impressive
villas and many institutions (mostly educational) with many caravans
interspersed. The industrial park on the periphery looked abandoned.
Qalandiya. Two passageways were open. There were no
lines, neither inside the CP nor in the northern shed. We passed
through to the vehicle CP in less than 5 minutes. There were no
lines there as well but we could see from afar a long line of cars at
the Atarot CP. However traffic there was moving quite quickly
– the cars were not stopped at the CP, just slowed down and continued
on their way. We returned to the pedestrian CP.
17:10: The soldiers stopped
work for a break, closing one of the passageways. Only Passageway
No. 3 remained open. It didn't take much time before the lines
lengthened causing the soldier in the northern post to lock the carousel
at the CP entrance. A line formed in the northern shed and grew
longer and longer. Within 15 minutes there were 30 people waiting
in Passageway No. 3 and another 20 or so were waiting in the pen in
17:25: We called the humanitarian
hotline to complain about the length of the lines and they promised
to make inquiries. Very shortly thereafter a second passageway
Why is it that the soldiers have to
take a lunch break just as people are getting out of work and trying
to get home? Why can't they break earlier or later or even
Three Palestinian youngsters (aged 14
and 15) came up to us and told us anxiously that the younger brother
of one, 14-year old Basil, had been detained while trying to pass through
the CP for presenting what the soldiers in the passageway insisted was
a forged birth certificate. The soldiers were holding the boy
in an isolation room in the passageway and had sent the other three
back (taking another birth certificate from one of them).
We phoned Mahdi who didn't answer (and
didn't return our call although we had left a message asking him to).
So we phoned Daniel, the officer in charge of security. Despite
the fact that he was not on duty at the CP (he had worked the morning
shift) he phoned the soldiers to find out what was happening.
Basil emerged from the CP barely 2 minutes before Daniel called back
to tell us that his soldiers had told him that Basil had been released
already. (I suspect that it was Daniel's call that caused his release.)
The boy told us that the soldiers had
shouted at him and that one had even slapped his face but another soldier
had intervened and told him to stop.
17:30: The children went
home, the lines were moving and so we left as well. On our way
back to Jerusalem we passed through Lil CP. The soldiers there
were not interfering with the flow of traffic.