Qalandiya

Observers: 
Chana Stein (translating), Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting)
Nov-16-2016
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Morning

05.15. A cold morning and still dark. On the Israeli side many people were already waiting for transport. On the Palestinian side were long lines that extended beyond the hut. 5 checking stations were open. The kiosk was open and the beigel seller was at his post. In the aquarium was a soldier and we saw a policeman outside, who had just finished letting some women through the humanitarian gate.  We have seen in the past this particular policeman opening the gate sometimes before 6 a.m.  It seems that if there is the will, it is possible to open the gate without waiting for the D.C.O. officer!

At about 6 a.m. the lines were reaching right into the parking lot, and there were many people waiting at the humanitarian gate. A guard arrived, accompanied by the D.C.O. officer. The policeman left, but soon returned with a policewoman and another guard.  In general the lines were orderly, though long. When we went out to buy tea we saw they reached deeply into the parking lot. The cats in the police enclosure entertained ‘our forces.’ They are the only ones free to pass through barriers.

Suddenly we saw the policeman, policewoman and 2 guards going out through the humanitarian gate, out of the shed. As we followed to see them, people in line called “photograph them,” but there wasn’t really anything to photograph. It turned out that they (joined by other staff from the vehicle checkpoint) went out to control the traffic. Indeed the traffic at the roundabout and in the road is a nightmare. (We, for a long time now, have been parking on the Israeli side so as to avoid this – which we are able to do.) Many people drive against the stream, and if a car comes in the correct direction, particularly if it’s a truck, there is a huge jam. First we saw the policewoman photographing cars (presumably later sending the drivers reports).  At one stage, she made a car driving in the wrong direction turn around and return towards the far roundabout. Suddenly a car in the parking lot could be heard screeching; immediately a policeman and guard appeared, the policeman drawing his revolver and standing opposite.  It is unclear why this was necessary as the policeman did not seem to be in any danger.  The car stopped right away, and the policeman approached, but it seems the driver was dismissed with only a warning.

At the far end (from us) outside the parking lot in the direction of the road leading to A-Ram and the distant roundabout, we suddenly heard an explosion and saw smoke.  We couldn’t see, but it looks as if our forces have started controlling the traffic by means of smoke bombs…

It doesn’t seem to us that these were tear gas (as we saw reported in earlier reports), because we felt no effects, and no one coming from that direction showed any tears or breathing difficulty.  Actually, there is a point in having police see that all the traffic at Qalandiya is in the right direction, but it’s not clear why they have to use smoke bombs…

We returned inside and, soon after, came the policeman, policewoman and 2 guards.  Meanwhile the lines had become shorter and were within the hut.  Soon after 7, when the lines were really short, we joined one and were out within 15 minutes.