Qalandiya, Fri 28.10.11, Morning

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Orit Dekel, Ofra Teneh (reporting)

Translator:  Charles K.

A difficult Friday, with long lines, elderly men and women and sick people crowded between the bars.  The “humanitarian lane” is closed.

Why isn’t the humanitarian lane open on Fridays?
8:40  Unlike ordinary Fridays, today we found three long lines of people who had been waiting under the canopy for a long time – an hour and a half, we were told (even before they reach the revolving gatesinfo-icon).  Three lanes are open.
An old man is jammed into the line between the bars, bent over, leaning on his cane, weak, sick.  He turns to us angrily, insulted.  He’s crying.  He gets stuck inside the revolving gate when the next clump of people tries to go through.  Hangs on the bars.  A heartbreaking sight.
Old and ill people continued to arrive the entire time we were there; they were forced to wait on line for a long time.  Others waiting allow them to move to the head of the line; the coffee-seller offers them his chair.  Some bring folding chairs with them – they’ve been here before.

The line lengthens.  The area beyond the revolving gates is also very crowded.  People run from one line to another, hoping to find the “right” one.  Bitterness, curses, anger.

An elderly man arrives with his sick wife.  He seats her on a bench while he stands at the head of the line.  She looks very bad.
We telephone the humanitarian office, ask them to open the humanitarian lane.  They promise to find out whether it’s possible (?).  After additional calls to the DCO we see beyond the bars, in the area beyond the fences, an officer and a soldier.  They wander around, and eventually reach the fence.  They allow a few of the elderly and the ill to come through.  Ten minutes later the magic door is locked again.  “They should get on line, we can’t stand here taking care of people.  Only those who are ill.”  But how is it possible to take care “only” of the sick if there’s no one at the humanitarian gate to deal with them?  The officer from the humanitarian office has disappeared; we shout, call him to return because those who need him haven’t gone away.  And you won’t believe this – the female soldier emerges from the cage and promises to find out whether he’s able to come back.

10:00  An adult man and his old father on their way to the hospital.  The father isn’t able to stand, and sits on the ground.  The son hopes the humanitarian gate will open; more calls to the DCO, the son is helpless (in the face of the fences), thinks it would be better to get on the regular line.  The old man gets up with great difficulty, moves toward the line, but the congestion makes them return to wait for someone from the DCO, hoping our calls helped.  The old man sinks down again on the concrete floor.  The DCO people suddenly appear.

10:10  The officer explains that many more people than usual arrived today; he agrees to allow (only) women to go through his gate.  While this shortens their wait on line, they get stuck beyond the revolving gates where the lines are long and the congestion is great.

An angry adult man says to us:  Next year I retire.  I’ll go to Australia, get a car, drive for hours on end without anyone stopping me and asking for my ID card.  Life here is humiliating and difficult, and it’s no wonder there’s a lot of anger and hatred, and that people want to kill all Jews everywhere.