'Atarot, Ar-Ram, Qalandiya, Mon 29.12.08, Afternoon

Facebook Twitter Whatsapp Email
Natanya G. and Phyllis W.
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

The roads to Jerusalem's northern
neighborhoods were jammed with traffic but the Palestinian neighborhoods
themselves were shrouded in deep depression.  There were almost
no people in the streets and in the stores.  Natanya and I met
up in Jaffer's Conditory in Beit Hanina before setting out for Qalandiya. 
Nabil warned us that he had heard there were problems in Qalandiya,
but Abed phoned and said he was drinking coffee in the parking lot there
and all was quiet.

We drove to Qalandiya via Atarot CP.  A line of about 10 cars was
slowly wending its way through the CP.  We saw no Palestinians
when passing by the A-Ram CP.

15:00 Qalandiya: 
A soldier accompanied by a civilian security guard stopped our car in
the northward lane of the vehicle CP to warn us that there might be
some problems at Qalandiya and that we were proceeding north on our
own responsibility.  A military Hummer was parked in the northern
square and a number of soldiers holding rifles were standing nearby. 
Also in the square we saw one or two TV crews and a bunch of locals
viewing the spectacle. 

Very few people were entering the CP
itself on their way to Jerusalem so there were no lines and passage
was rapid.

Natanya's report:

There were few cars, few pedestrians,
not many workers coming home and what I only realized
afterwards, the little boys and the one girl who must be about six who
are normally there selling their chewing gum were not there. The first
time I have seen that ever. The scene was surrealistic as it sometimes
is at these checkpoints. The parking lot and actual checkpoint were
quiet. In fact the checkpoint was almost abandoned. Where the circle
is, where the road starts going to Ramallah, soldiers were standing
with rifles and also a Palestinian TV crew with their cameras and various
Palestinian  bystanders.  A strange group to see standing together and
even more strange to see that the soldiers simply accepted this without
telling anyone to move off.

Phyllis and I crossed over the road trying to
get a better view and not get entangled in the barbed wire.  On
a hill fairly far off we could see a largish group of teenage boys throwing
stones. Each time the soldiers would respond with rubber bullets and
tear gas which because of the strong wind floated back to us. Although
there was an ambulance standing near the group it seemed stationary
and it did not seem as if anyone had truly been hurt. We stayed about
an hour but there was nothing we could do except witness what I can
only describe as a childish standoff.  
It made me think of Tom Sawyer, which I have just been reading in Arabic,
and the "gang" warfare. Stupid young boys playing a stupid
war game. That is if one did not know that the whole scene could change
in a minute and if one could forget what was happening in Gaza.  I thought
to myself how pointless it all was. The stone throwers were not doing
any damage that we could see and the soldiers seemed to respond in a
pointless kind of ritual.

16:30:  We left Qalandiya
at returned directly via Beit Hanina without visiting Lil and Hizmeh