Qalandiya

Place: 
Observers: 
Virginia Syvan, Ina Friedman (reporting)
Mar-28-2017
|
Morning

The Security Guard Saves the Day

Only four of the five checking stations were operating when we arrived at 5:30 – and only 4 of the 12 lights were working in the shed. The woman soldier in the “Aquarium” repeatedly tried to get some message across to the people (perhaps that Station 5 was closed?). But because she shouted into the microphone in an angry tone, no one could understand a word of what she was saying (and we asked a number of people what she had said, because we thought she was shouting in Arabic). Finally we called the DCO line and asked them to contact her and suggest that she stop shouting, because nobody understands her. But that didn’t help either.

The lines this morning were not long (reaching to the kerb of the sidewalk before the first line of cars), and the rate of progress forward prevented them from growing any longer.

The problem today was the Humanitarian Gate, because quite a few people had begun gathering by it from 5:50 to 6:10. At 6:14, after we called the DCO line to ask whether there was an intention to open the gate, a security guard arrived with keys in hand. To our request that an announcement be made if the fifth checking station was closed (because people were lined up to enter it), he replied that it was now open but that there was a problem there (the turnstile leading in to it wasn’t working). And then, while still the only one on site, he took command: dragged a police barrier to block off the fourth station from the fifth (so that only people passing through the Humanitarian Gate could use the fifth station); opened a gate to enter into the fifth station; returned to the Humanitarian Gate, checked documents, and opened the gate for the considerable crowd waiting there.

We do not know whether he was operating under instructions or on his own initiative. Either way, we are impressed every time we see an action taken to ease the plight of the waiting to get through the checkpoint because we have passed so many hours of observing total apathy on the part of those in charge of the checkpoint toward the distress of the people forced to pass through it.

Only at 6:30 did the woman DCO responsible for operating the Humanitarian Gate arrive and begin working. (By the way, people who pass through the gate regularly have told us that she often arrives late on Tuesdays, for unknown reasons, and we have already written about this). At 6:40, that is, 10 minutes later, she declared the gate closed, told the people waiting by it to join the lines through the “cages,” and left. 

A bit before that, we walked outside to congratulate the coffee man on his new arrangement, after his kiosk had been taken down. Now he has a kiosk on wheels, a van that looks similar to the food trucks so common on the streets of New York and other cities. And at the same opportunity, we saw a horse (without a bridle) sauntering through the parking lot. Later we read that the following day he had entered the shed. We hope that someone has taken command of settling his problem.

At 6:45 we joined the short line by the entrance to the left cage (the usually problematic one) and were out of the checkpoint within 10 minutes.