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Natanya G. and Phyllis W. (reporting)

We reached Qalandiya shortly before 4 PM after a long wait in the traffic jam in the southern square. We found a relatively large number of people waiting in the CP, but turned our attention to a group of 5 men waiting at the entrance of the DCO passageway.  We found out that two of them were accompanying their wives (who had cancer and had just been released from hospital in Nablus where they had undergone chemotherapy) back to Gaza.   The two women were waiting in the northern shed. The men had given their I.D. cards and all their paperwork to a driver they had just met at 1 PM and now, at 4 PM when their phone calls to him went unanswered, were beginning to wonder if he hadn’t gone off with their documents and what were they to do?  We tried to help and phoned the DCO representative who checked the ID numbers and told us that they didn’t appear in her list.  She told us to contact the Palestinians at Erez Crossing and tell them to arrange for the people to get back to Gaza.  So we called the hospital in Nablus where the people gave us the number of a contact person who told us that everything had been arranged and that it was the Israeli’s who were messing things up!  And so it turned out!  After 20 minutes the missing driver emerged from the DCO offices with all the documents in hand, including the permits.  Everyone was overjoyed and immediately started organizing themselves for the trip ahead.  After the two couples had crossed through the CP successfully, a young boy and his father approached us.  They too wanted to return to Gaza and they held in their hands two permits that had just been issued by the DCO in Qalandiya.  But when they had presented their papers in the passageway the soldiers had refused to let them through.  We phoned headquarters and asked to be connected to the DCO representative (after no one answered our direct phone call).  A young man got on the line and questioned us about the permits held by the father and son.  When he was convinced that the permits were in order he phoned the soldiers in the passageway and instructed them to let the father and son through.  We saw them pass through the CP on their way to Gaza.  It sure was an exhausting day at Qalandiya.  It makes you wonder how the Palestinians endure!!