'Atara, Hizma, Qalandiya, Sun 26.9.10, Afternoon

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Tamar F., Liat G. and Phyllis W. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

On the eve of the end of the "Settlement Freeze" and perhaps of negotiations with the Palestinians.....

15:15, Qalandiya:  Borders with the West Bank have been shut for the Sukkoth holiday.  Passage through the checkpoints is only possible for bearers of blue ID cards (citizens and residents of Israel) and Palestinians of recognized "family unification" status.  There were very few people at Qalandiya in the afternoon.  The peddlers near the northern shed told us that there had been very few people all that day.  Only two passageways were active.  In the "aquarium" between passageways 4 and 5, a lone female soldier was dealing with applicants to the DCO (of whom there were none at the time).

By 15:30 the flow of people coming from the direction of Ramallah to Jerusalem began to increase and the lines in the two active passageways began to grow longer.  I phoned headquarter and they apparently arranged for the opening of another passageway, No. 4.

The three of us got in line to cross the CP.  Liat was first to enter the examination area and, when she presented her ID to the soldier, he refused to let her through and began shouting at her that she had been in Area A (the area controlled by the PA and out of bounds for Israeli's) which was, of course, untrue.  Only when Tamar arrived and explained to the soldier what we had done (pointing out that he had no conception of the map of the area), did he relent and open the passageway.

We left Qalandiya at about 16:30 and drove down Highway 60 to see what was happening in the territories.  On our way to Atara CP we saw no unusual activity or preparations - there was no heavy machinery on the roads.  The soldiers at the CP descended from their pillbox to warn us not to take pictures (even though photography is permitted by the IDF).  They told us that they had been in their outpost (at the northern exit from Ramallah/Beir Zeit) for 4 days and would shortly be relieved.  They also told us that they only set up a road block in cases of terror warnings (which isn't always the case).

From Atara we drove back to Adam/Sha'ar Benyamin (an Israeli settlement).  We drove around the settlement for about 20 minutes, but it was pretty late and people were no longer at work so we saw no building underway and no preparations either.

We returned to Jerusalem via Hizmeh CP.