Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Mon 19.3.12, Afternoon
When we reached Qalandiya at 3:30 PM we found all our friends from the northern shed, the peddlers with their pushcarts, standing outside under the dust-filled sky. They told us that they had been warned last Wednesday by a group of policemen that they could no longer stand in the shed. Since then they have been chased away every day. Fadi told us that the police had confiscated merchandise (fresh strawberries and almonds) worth NIS 5,000 and that a peddler named Jabber had suffered a loss of NIS 10,000, including a fine. The peddlers provided names of the policemen who had been particularly hard on them.
At 3:40 PM two passageways to Jerusalem (Nos. 1 and 4) were open. Fourteen people were waiting in Passageway 5 to get to the DCO offices and the post office. Some of those waiting said that they had been on line since 12 noon and the gate had not been opened even once. We phoned headquarters and were told they would check on what was happening. Nothing happened. The Passageways Unit were unwilling to talk to us and slammed the phone down. In the end we tried a police phone number (which we had been warned was only for emergencies). Surprisingly, the policeman on the line answered politely and even offered information that a problem with the computer system had been causing troubles at the CP for several hours. He said that the problem was almost solved and that the DCO offices would open shortly. And, in fact, within minutes (4:03 PM), the PA system announced that Passageway 5 was open to the post office and the DCO. Unfortunately, opening of Passageway 5 was accompanied by closure of Passageway 4, leaving only one passageway available for those trying to reach Jerusalem (quite a large number of people returning home, especially students, at this time of day). Passageway 1 quickly filled to overflow, with ca. 40 people waiting in line, and then the entrance to the CP from the northern shed (where another 20 were waiting on line) was closed as well. Meanwhile, in the aquarium between passageways 4 and 5, two female soldiers and one male (a guest?) were holding a lively conversation, passing a cell phone around among them and laughing – a real blast! Even after they finished passing the 14 people into the DCO/Post Office, they continued their socializing instead of opening the passageway to Jerusalem. We phoned the police number once again and within minutes the PA announced that Passageway 4 was open – but only to Palestinians with Palestinian Authority ID cards (green), a very small number of people at this time of day who were happy to "finally" enjoy a preferential status over Jerusalemites with blue ID cards, of whom 40 or 50 were still standing in the long line in Passageway 1. Although we phoned again, to "squeal" and request that the soldiers in Passageway 4 be ordered to take care of Jerusalemites as well, we were unsuccessful in improving the "service." This begs the question, is each soldier at Qalandiya a law unto him or herself?
When we left Qalandiya at 4:55 we saw that ca. 20 people were waiting on line in the queue for bus passengers. At Lil/Jabba CP we saw a fierce looking German Shepherd (muzzled) was on duty with the soldiers