Monday afternoon, 2.11.2009
Phyllis W. and Natanya G. (reporting)
15:30: We drove past Atarot CP on our way to Qalandiya. Twenty-five vehicles were wending their way slowly past the CP.15:40 – Qalandiya: Already on our arrival a Palestinian ran to ask us to go into the checking area where an elderly couple from Gaza had had their permit to return home confiscated. We found them and discovered that the man had had an operation (we think he had a stent inserted). A taxi to take them to Erez CP was waiting on the Jerusalem side of Qalandiya, but when they tried to go through the CP, their permit was taken from them and they were told to return to Ramallah. They had no where to go and no money left — the woman was in tears. Phyllis phoned operations headquarters and asked to be connected with the DCO representative. It turned out that the couple was expected and after a short interval they were allowed into the DCO area.
Phyllis accompanied them, saw that they received new permits and then told them to go through Passageway No. 4 as instructed in the DCO. But shortly after that a man came running to tell us that the soldiers on duty in No. 4 had sent them back once again. Phyllis went into the checking area with them and called the DCO officers who apparently instructed the soldier to let the couple through. She followed them through the CP and saw them get into a taxi on the Jerusalem side and depart for Gaza (16:20).
From Qalandiya CP, looking towards Atarot, it was clear that the line of vehicles at Atarot CP had grown much longer and was moving very slowly.
Between 15:40 and 16:40 three passageways were active at Qalandiya. The day was very cold and after a while torrential rain started to fall. At 16:40, the soldiers on duty in the passageways began opening and closing sleeves intermittently, disregarding the fact that people were waiting in line. When one sleeve closed, people would race to another, losing their place in line and beginning their wait again from scratch. This behavior was repeated again and again. At this point there were about 30 people on line in Passageway No. 2 and 40 in Passageway No. 4. Once again there was an announcement over the PA system that Passageway 4 was closed and Passageway 3 was open. Once again people scrambled to get in the new line. We phoned the Operations Room and the Moked to complain.
At one point there was a whole group of foreign tourists in line (in Passageway 2) and while I was watching I saw the soldiers calling them to hurry through the turnstile. As the last of them went through and a Palestinian tried to follow the gate was locked in his face and the soldier shouted that the area was closed. Again the Palestinians were sent to another sleeve and, after an interval of about 5 minutes, to yet another.
A young man whom I had seen when we came into the checking area had evidently been sent from one sleeve to another, each time landing at the end of the line. By this time he was very angry and ran to the soldier sitting in the booth at the entrance and shouted at him. All this time the rain continued to pound on the roof so that at times it was hard to hear what the person on the telephone was saying.
16:57: We called headquarters again to complain about the intermittent closing and opening of the passageways. The female soldier who answered the phone slammed it down when she heard who was calling.
17:10: We phoned headquarters again to complain. This time another soldier told us he would forward our complaint to the commanding officer.
Shortly afterwards I saw the young man mentioned above manage to finally enter the checking area. He showed the soldier his ID and took his things from the x-ray machine and then I heard him shouting at her in anger, but he did not threaten her. Then I heard her shouting at him, `Who do you think you are talking to? Do you think I am your girlfriend?` At that point, she locked the second turnstile (the exit), imprisoning him in the examination area. She also prevented anyone else from coming through to be checked.
The man went back to her a few times asking why she did not let him out and she just sat there doing nothing. Then she called him and told him to enter one of the doors in the examination area, which he did. But she still did not open the first turnstile for people to go through. I went off for a few minutes and when I came back I saw through the bars that articles of clothing which had not been there previously were lying on the floor inside.
I asked one of the men whose clothing it was and they said that the young man had been ordered to throw his clothing down there. I do not know where they stripped him but his jacket was there and also his trousers on the dirty floor so I knew that he was inside in his underclothing. Then a private security guard came out and gathered up the clothing. I called to him asking what was going on and he said he could not talk and that there had been a `security event`.
I shouted back at him that there had been no such thing, that the young man was justified in his anger and that it had been caused by the inefficiency of the soldiers at the CP….and I would have added that perhaps it expressed the desire of the soldiers to show their power. We phoned the Moked (Humanitarian hotline) and the Operations Room again and were told that someone would get back to us but no one did.
We do not know who the young man was as he was on his own nor did we see him coming out. We do not know what happened to him. We only know that it was the hubris of the woman soldier which had caused his detention. She had evidently been annoyed at being shouted at by a mere Palestinian and this after she and her friends had played cat and mouse with the Palestinians during a goodly part of the shift while we were there. It was sheer punishment and nothing else.
17:23: The two active passageways are very full. The weather is still very cold and rainy. The soldiers are working very slowly, the wait is interminable.