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Hanna Barag; Guests: The writer Ayelet Waldman and Y.S. companion; Translator: Hanna K.

Horror at Qalandiya


It is already 15 years that we report on the horrors at Qalandiya, but today all records were broken!


O4:00: The CP was probably opened a few minutes before I arrived, but the queue already extended deep into the parking lot. From cabs and busses more and more people descended, who ran with all their might to the queue. The atmosphere was explosive, at such an early hour.


The queue advanced very slowly, and the rage which was at first restrained, began to burst out. Young and sturdy men began circumventing the queue and to force their way in the direction of the "cages". A riot developed. Shouts, shaking of the turnstiles and blows. The girl soldier in the aquarium sat with her back to the window, and moved between sleep to games on her phone. From time to time shouts of "soldier, soldier" were heard, and the turnstiles were opened. The crush at the queue was awful, but at the entrance to the "cages" it was frightening. One man who suffers from acute asthma, seemed to be on the verge of suffocation. His face was already blue, and with great difficulty and the help of another person he managed to remove an inhaler from his pocket. There was no chance of extricating him from the cage and from the congestion. Two men helped him get out by way of the turnstile. All along the shift we saw other people who had difficulty standing in the crown and some who extricated themselves from the "cages" sat down on the floor to collect forces, before they juined the crazy run to the sleeves. Those who passed food parcels and bags through the slits in the fence,  were obliged to run and collect their belongings before they joined the sprint towards the checking sleeves. "The motto of the day" was "we are like donkey" or also "we are treated like animals. The thought that the Palestinians at the checkpoints are forced to undergo this humiliation every day, doesn’t  allow one any rest.


04:30 A TV crew arrived whose film, which they shot there and which speaks for itself, we saw tonight on channel 2.


05:00 A security man arrived, and walked around aimlessly at the "sterileinfo-icon area". The cats of the CP, the only creatures who walk around freely in the area, kept him company.


05:45 Our guests arrived. This morning's experience they will certainly not forget quickly. I was asked incessantly whether this is like that all the time, and how people are able to stand this. The Palestinians with whom they talked gave the explanation – "one has to maintain the family".


06:15 The people from the Civil Administration and the policeman arrived and the "humanitarian gate" was opened. The woman officer of the Civil Administration, polite gentle and patience, was strict about not letting anybody who was not "entitled", pass. The policeman – crude and bold, set the tone. It was difficult to decide whom he hated more, the Palestinians or us. The woman officer pointed out, with embarrassment, that there was not choice, she was obliged to obey "the rules". An acquaintance who was severely burned in a work accident, bandage entirely, tried to explain that the queue is beyond his capability, and that any delay will bare him to the sun, did not succeed in convincing the soldiers to let him become integrated in the "humanitarian" queue. These are the rules and it is forbidden to break them….! (it is interesting to know how the laundered tem "humanitarian" was invented to described this bureaucratic  abuse?) The gate was closed exactly at the prefixed time, without any consideration to the situation.  Women who came late for the opening of the gate were obliged to crowd with the men in the jammed "cages". If it would have been Jewish religious women, everybody would have already joined in an outcry.


When the guests left there was still a commotion, and the queue passed the edge of the shed. People who waited for the situation to calm down and feared to lose a day's work, joined the queue and again a terrible congestion was created, accompanied by screams and shaking of the turnstiles. None of the soldiers or the policeman did think it would be advisable to do something to decrease the pressure and the rage – and if they did we didn't see any expression of that.


08:00 I was obliged to leave when the queue was still long and in the "cages" there was a terrible pressure. Elderly people held with all their might the fence of the cage in order to maintain their equilibrium. The turnstiles were opened slowly, and the girl soldier in the aquarium played with her phone and opened mainly when shouts were heard from the queue.


Qalandiya"at its best" – a mirror picture of the most enlightened occupation in the world!!!