'Atara, Qalandiya, Sun 2.11.08, Afternoon

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Ronni H and Tamar F (reporting)

3:30 Atara
Givati soldiers carried out meticulous inspection of vehicles that arrived from all four directions -- those coming from Ramallah and going to it, and all vehicles arriving from the village of Atara (from north of the checkpoint) and to travellers from the eastern sides at the end of the village of Bir Zeit.  The check of one vehicle took about 7 minutes. 
There were long lines of vehicles winding like a serpent around the area in front of the checkpoint.  we counted 20 vehicles in the line leaving Ramallah and 70 going to the city.  From the end of the line to the beginning took about 30 minutes. 
The driver of a vehicle which belongs to the hospital in Ramallah was transporting an old man who was released from the hospital.  He said, now the situation is quiet, not even a stone is being thrown.  Rather than making things easier on us, they are making it harder.  The old man added, "only after I die will things be better". 
The commander of the checkpoint, and one of his soldiers, tried to restrict our movements by placing us in a restricted corner to stand in.  We refused. He called the police.  After a few minutes, we heard him angrily say that the police are not coming (how will they come?)  He was also angry that we were speaking with the Palestinians and were causing delays in movement.  We were causing the delays -- not the checkpoints!)  We pointed out to him the line of dozens of vehicles that were waiting and he blamed it on the instructions that he received regarding a suspect vehicle.  Randomly, soldiers were stopping transits, making the passengers who were returning from a long day's work get out, and making them stand in a straight line to have their i.d.'s checked by a computer. 
A Palestinian driver stopped and delivered blessings to Roni for peace. The commander was shocked and aroused his curiosity.  "You two know each other?, as if Jews and Arabs are not meant to know each other.  From that point on, he was interested in engaging us in conversation, and as his interest in us continued with us in friendly manner, the pace of passage sped up, the lines were shorter, vehicles that were stopped were sent to a special lane so as not to impede traffice.  In contrast, his friend said that we were only interested in the good of the Arabs.  "These are human beings.  They blow up their bodies.  They are animals".  Thus the soldier summarized his view of the world.  The commander contended that we do not provide the goods to those who benefit us.  You have to come with cameras and video and photograph, he agreed.  We agreed and explained that we don't have video cameras.

To the Palestinian driver who did not understand that he was supposed to stop before the chedkpoint and proceeded toward it he yelled, "Stop.  What is this here?  A whore house?" The commander noticed that I was writing what he said and asked to see it.  When he saw that I had written the sentence he uttered above, he burst out laughting.  He thought that he should improvide his language and said"What is this a house of ill repute.  He found in his friend a source that would end the boredom and asked why we come only once a week and not every day and suggested "Go dress up as soldiers who beat up Arabs.  That is what you have to do".  We left at 4:30. הכפר עטרה
5:10 Qalandiya  More than 50 people were crowded together in the one lane that was working.  The woman soldier who was responsible for the announcements called out instructions in Hebrew alone.  When the "client" in front of us didn't understand, she repeated her words again and again, slowly and with patience.  The line moved at a snail's pace.  It took 35 minutes to go a few meters to the other side of the checkpoint.  The crowd that was waiting outside the area of inspection was divided between those who scorned the ineptitude of the soldier to relate to the women (who, mostly, did not understand Hebrew) and those who were angry.    At the checkpoint for vehicles, we saw an ambulance heading in the direction of Ramallah.  A border policeman said that he was taking two injured people -- a boy who was climbing the wall fell and broke his leg and a worker from the territories in Israel who was bitten by a snake.
5:45  An addition inspection lane was opened and waiting time was short.  When we returned to the same place 15 minutes later, there was once again just one lane open and again the line was getting longer.  There were then some 20 people waiting.