'Atarot, Qalandiya, Mon 13.4.09, Afternoon
Qalandiya and Atarot.
15:40: There was no line of vehicles at Atarot CP - traffic was flowing.
15:45: At Qalandiya as well there was no line of cars in the passage to Ramallah and no buses were being delayed in the northern square. There were very few people in the pedestrian passageways, two of which were operating.
16:05: We went through the CP to the vehicle CP and saw that a long line had formed in the passageway to Ramallah. A closer look showed that the traffic jam was not the result of security checks but rather of irrational traffic arrangements where vehicles on the road to Ramallah must cross through the line of vehicles waiting to enter Jerusalem. What a mess!
16:45: A tourist family from Italy entered the CP - father, mother and a boy of 10 holding a palm frond in his hand for the Easter holiday. They encountered difficulties in the carousel at the entrance to the CP because of all their valises and packages - so we tried to help them out. The mother told us that they had come to visit last year as well, but last year they had been allowed to remain in the bus when passing through Qalandiya and not been required to disembark with all their belongings. In Passageway 2 the female soldier examining documents began to yell at them in Hebrew and Arabic over the PA system. (Later she told us that she couldn't see who was waiting in line. Really? I thought that that was one of the purposes of the closed circuit televisions scattered around the CP.) The little boy was very upset and on the verge of tears. Somehow the soldier caught on and changed her behavior, adopting a friendlier attitude to the tourists. But from the effort she was making, she forgot to operate the x-ray machine so that the belt kept running until it spilled all the family's packages onto the floor on the other side of the machine. Finally, after all the difficulties, the family completed the examination process but was unable to leave the CP for another few minutes because the soldiers discovered a knife in the x-ray machine belonging to the tourist behind them in line. This fellow was forced to part with his knife, which he did very angrily. (Just then I remembered that I had forgotten to remove my penknife from my bag, which had already been x-rayed three times and the knife had not been discovered. This would not have happened in an airport. So much for security that the CP system provides.) In the end everyone managed to enter Jerusalem and find the next bus into town.
17:00: From the vehicle CP we could see that there was no line at Atarot. At Qalandiya however the line of cars to Ramallah was very long, reaching all the way around the southern square.
Back in the northern shed, several young women with a bunch of very small children were trying to enter the CP and pushing a carriage through the carousel. Behind them, in the narrow enclosure, a long line of people was waiting as they tried to manipulate the carriage through the turnstile. The adults were all getting nervous at the wait, but the little children remained calm. I guess Palestinian infants have learned to cope with the Occupation.
17:30: We left Qalandiya and returned to Jerusalem via Lil and Hizmeh. There were no lines.