Ar-Ram, Qalandiya, Mon 14.5.12, Afternoon

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Natanya G. and Phyllis W. (reporting)

The road to Qalandiya was one great traffic jam, particularly along the Wall that encloses the city of Ar-Ram.  It took us one-half hour to travel the last 200 m. to the southern square where we saw that traffic was once again being directed into Ar-Ram through the huge gate in the Wall, causing all the trouble.  However, only when we passed through the CP and reached the northern parking lot did we understand that we had reached a "war game" arena.  Groups of young men and boys (from Qalandiya Refugee Camp?) were throwing stones at the vehicle CP and retreating under an answering hail of tear gas grenades fired at them by a company of soldiers.  Waves of attack and retreat continued all afternoon.  We saw no one wounded and no ambulances arrived, but the smell of tear gas hung in the air, burning eyes and nostrils, while the "games" disrupted operation of the CP.  When we arrived at Qalandiya there was still a line of some 30 people in the bus passenger passageway.  But the buses stopped driving into the CP while the battle continued and this passageway appeared to have shut down.
Only two passageways were active in the pedestrian CP, with 20 or 30 people waiting on line in each.  Those waiting complained that the soldiers were opening the turnstiles into the examination area only once every fifteen minutes, but when we made eye contact with the soldiers and then stood there observing, we saw that the intervals grew shorter.  The (female) soldier in Passageway 1 kept trying to direct people from her line to the line in Passageway 3, in spite of the fact that the number of people in both lines was the same.  She kept shouting in a vulgar and insulting manner into the PA system, implying that those on line were too stupid to understand.  She acted in a degrading and shameful manner.  Due to closureinfo-icon of the bus passenger passageway, conditions in the old CP rapidly became more crowded.  There were lots of students coming home from their studies in Ramallah and many women with small children on their way to Jerusalem.  When the internal passageways became half full, the soldier controlling the turnstile in the northern shed closed it so that shortly there was also a long line of people waiting in the shed.
We left Qalandiya at 5:30 PM and joined the huge traffic jam on the road to Lil/Jabba.  Traffic in the two other CPs (Lil/Jabba and Hizmeh) was "davka" flowing freely.