Hizma, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Mon 28.6.10, Afternoon

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Natanya G. and Phyllis W. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

15:30, Qalandiya:  Traffic was flowing at the southern entrance to the CP, however a long line of vehicles stretched away into the distance from the northern square along the road from Ramallah.  Traffic arrangements at the northern CP entrance are virtually non-existent.

As we arrived at Qalandiya, we saw two ambulances transferring a patient from one to the other in the bus parking lot.  At this stage of the process, things were progressing rapidly and efficiently and both ambulances were on their way in only a few minutes.

Inside the pedestrian CP the three active passageways were fairly crowded.  In Passageway 4 (which is sometimes reserved for men only), we saw that women were waiting as well and seemed to be getting through with no problems. 

In the northern shed, in the barred enclosures leading to the carousels, the enclosure closest to the soldiers' post that usually serves those entering the CP was apparently out of order.  This could not be seen from the shed, so somebody took the initiative and, with an impressive display of Israeli army equipment, tied two plastic bags across the entrance to save people the effort of entering only to find the carousel closed.  Ludicrous but effective.

There were no lines in the northern shed during our shift at the CP.  We entered the CP and stood in Passageway 4.  It took us 10 minutes to reach the Jerusalem side.  The other passageways were operating at a similar rate.

When we emerged from the CP we saw a truck standing in the bus parking lot.  Two men and a boy were busy emptying its load onto the road.  One of them told us that he was a Jerusalem resident (blue ID) employed by the city and was moving his family from Kufr Akeb ("a neighborhood" beyond the Wall) into his house in the Old City.  He and the truck driver had come to Qalandiya earlier to talk with the Passageway Officer in order to assure that there would be no problems with the move.  But when they returned several hours later with the loaded truck, the Officer with whom they had spoken was no longer there and the soldiers on duty delayed their passage and ordered them to unload the truck in the parking lot.  We watched as they unloaded valises and cartons, blankets and mattresses (7 kids in the family) on the dirty roadway getting more and more discouraged and angry.  After about 10 minutes, the soldier returned with his guard and looked inside the truck at the remaining heavy pieces of furniture, stacked like the pieces of a puzzle.  After looking inside the washing machine and the fridge, he was nice enough to allow the group to reload the truck and get on their way. 
(I can't help but wonder what would have happened if two grandmotherly types from MachsomWatch had not been standing there and observing.)

By 16:15 a huge traffic jam had developed in the southern square due to the traffic conditions (or lack of them) at the northern entrance.

16:25:  There are still 3 active pedestrian passageways.

16:45:  Not much traffic, no lines.  We left Qalandiya and returned to Jerusalem via Lil/Jabba and Hizmeh.  There were no lines at either CP.