A bad morning at Qalandiya: a woman was shot at the vehicle checkpoint and later died of her wounds; another person was lightly wounded

Chana Stein, Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting)

At 6.15 we parked in the parking lot and started walking towards the checkpoint. At first all looked normal – across the road men were sitting on the stone bar next to the Wall, waiting for transport. But suddenly a police car rushing by with sirens blaring towards the checkpoint was the first sign of something untoward. We continued towards the checkpoint, and people told us that someone had been shot. Closer to the checkpoint we met people who told us that a woman who had by mistake walked towards the car checkpoint was shot.

We stood next to the traffic circle, surrounded by many others. There were many forces in the area of the car checkpoint which was closed to traffic. On the other – Palestinian – side there was obviously a large gathering of people and we began to hear shots of ‘shock’ grenades. Then we saw also smoke, presumably from tear gas, although on the Israel side we did not feel any effects of gas. There were also sounds of regular gunshot, but we aren’t arms experts …

We tried to pass to the Palestinian side but a guard prevented us from approaching. He asked us and others to move away. In answer to our question about what had happened, he said “they shot a woman terrorist.” Passage for pedestrians to the Palestinian side is via turnstiles which are very close to the car checkpoint, through the area that used to be the bus terminal and that is now full of building material. Today there were many military and police vehicles standing there. We noticed that pedestrians were no longer coming out of the checkpoint, either, and understood that passage had been stopped altogether. Meanwhile they opened the large gate in the wall itself and vehicles moving from Jerusalem to the West Bank used that, in addition to some pedestrians. We returned to the opposite side of the traffic circle.

At about 6.30 an intensive care ambulance arrived. About 15 minutes passed before it left, with sirens. We comforted ourselves with the thought that at least this was a sign that the woman was alive, but later we heard that she died in the hospital. When the ambulance left forces starting leaving, too, and people started streaming out again from the checkpoint – passage of pedestrians to Jerusalem had resumed. After a few minutes, both pedestrian and vehicle passage towards the West Bank resumed.

Meanwhile we noticed a small cluster of people around a man sitting on the pavement next to the traffic circle, leaning on a cement post. Police approached and checked him and it turned out that he was wounded in his leg. A Magen David medic was summoned and arrived on a motor-bike.  The police moved the surrounding people away, while the medic treated and bandaged the man. People told us that the man had been hurt by a bullet or shrapnel (we couldn’t understand exactly). Apparently the medic was himself a Palestinian, as later the police departed, leaving the orderly alone with the man to wait for an ambulance. When the ambulance [by the way, donated by American Friends of the Magen David (c.s.)] arrived, the man managed to totter on one leg to the seat which lifted him inside. So we hope that his wound was indeed a light one and that he will recover quickly.

At this point two-wheeled vehicles started coming out of the checkpoint – bikes, motor-bikes, etc. A little later slow passage of cars began. It was already 7.15 and we decided to leave without crossing to the Palestinian side this time.

On the way home we heard on the radio that there had been an incident at Qalandiya, in which a woman was shot and taken to hospital. Later in the day details were reported – first, the sad news that the woman died in the hospital. [As it was reported that she had been shot in her legs, this is surprising.] Then it was reported that a 50 year-old woman had approached the car checkpoint on foot and that when she was told to stop she took out a knife. If this was indeed so, then she was not there by mistake and knew that this would lead to her being shot. Sad to think that her life must be so hard that she decided to die this way.

At about 11 a.m. Ronit returned to the Palestinian side of Qalandiya with Liora to sign up people who want to appeal to court against their entry-permit refusals. At that time there was no sign of what had previously occurred. Everything went smoothly and after completing their business, they passed through the checkpoint in a few minutes without delay.