Ar-Ram, Qalandiya, Wed 18.2.09, Afternoon

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Ruti and Hannah (reporting)

15:50 Ar Ram  Today, we were informed that the Ar Ram checkpoint is closed.  There was no checking of vehicles into Ar Ram.  There was checking of those going into Jerusalem.  The temporary fence is in the process of being dismantled, up to the intersection of the stadium intersection.  The people were ruminating "We just need bread for our children".  There was a lot of garbage on the street.  The iron fence of Ar Ram was closed.  There was only an exit to the north.  Palestinian Ar Ram was closed.
16:05 Qalandiya  From afar, we could see a line at Atarot.  In the plaza of Qalandiya on the Jerusalem side, there was a group of English youngsters (wearing kipot) being guided by an Israeli who came to Israel in a program called "Learning about the realities"  The guide had heard about machsomwatch and allowed us to answer the questions of the youngsters.
16:25 There was a huge bottleneck around the two traffic circles -- the north and the south.  Cars from Atarot, Ar Ram, inspections without purpose at the checkpoint of vehicles leaving, and a total stoppage of all lanes in the northern circle.  Everything stood still, even the alternative routes around the circle.  Blocked.  A driver said "There is no democracy here -- no human rights.  You have a heart of stone that drives us to hell".
16:50  The iron gate of the wall to Ar Ram was opened and all the private vehicles heading to Palestinian Ar Ram from Atarot and Jerusalem were directed through.  Trucks and minibuses went straight ahead.  For those going through Ar Ram, the way is longer.  We did not understand the reason for the congestion.  Could it be related to the changes in southern Ar Ram?
16:35  In the waiting area cage. There was only one sleeveinfo-icon opened.
17:55 At least 70 people were in front of the left cage and in it.  A soldier was trying to make order.  We called to those responsible to have them open another sleeve.  Within minutes, they announced the opening of a new lane and people races to the new lane.  And -- the lane was closed.  (Perhaps it was never even opened).  Everyone went back to the old lane.  This pattern repeated itself three times during the time that we were there.  
The meanwhile, lane 5 was opened to those not carrying everything.  The problem was that not everyone knew about that and there were those who went in and were sent back and started waiting all over again.
17:20  Started to pass through the cage
17:33Waiting in lane 3.  There was a huge line, and again the same thing happens as above.  The total confusion, absence of organization, and the total absence of concern especially felt today.  There was the feeling that all those responsible for the checkpoint today, from the simplest soldier up to the very top brass -- all of them lost their humanity.  People were infuriated.  An older woman broke down in tears.  Yes, she is here every day.
18:00 There is still a line in sleeve #3.  Now, lanes 2 and 5 are opened.  A young woman must take off her boots.  "You are ignoring us" says the woman soldier from behind the closed passageway.  The pleas of the young woman did not help, she removed her boots and appeared in pretty stiped socks on the freezing and filthy floor.  She put the boots through the machine.  It got stuck.  Then they went through.  The young woman was consumed with anger from the frustration.  The argument at the window continued "until the matter is solved".  The entire line was being punished.  The young woman shouted out on behalf of the violence against whole line, against all this shame.  She was detained in a side room.  Policeman P.K. asked her to accompany him.  He promised us that she would be released in a few minutes.  We waited a while longer and left.
18:30  We went through lane 3 at 18:30.
18:43 A long line of cars heading north, along the Ar Ram wall.  The iron gate between Ar Ram and Qalandiya was closed.