'Atarot, Hizma, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Mon 5.1.09, Afternoon

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Natanya, Phylis (reprting)

People can apparently get used to almost anything, even to the war in Gaza.   Although the streets are not bustling as they were in the past, there are more people about, even at Qalandiya CP.

15:15  On our way to Qalandiya we passed by Atarot CP where a long slow line of cars snaked down the hill.  We could not see the end of the line which disappeared beyond the bend in the road.

15:30 Qalandiya  The little kids peddling chewing gum met us in the parking lot.  They told us that groups of older kids had been throwing stones earlier, but we had apparently arrived at a lull in the fighting and vehicular traffic was flowing slowly but uninterruptedly.  Two passageways were operating in the pedestrian CP.  For the entire duration of our shift they were very crowded and passage was very slow.
A young woman accompanied by 5 very small children, one an infant in arms (frequently in the arms of his "older" brother who could barely carry him), tried to pass through the CP.  She presented an out of date permit to the soldier in the passageway and he categorically refused to allow her through, shouting at her in an intimidating manner.  We returned with her to the northern shed where she told us that she was a Palestinian married to an Israeli citizen living in Abu  Ghosh.  She had taken her children to Ramallah with her that morning to visit her mother who had just returned from the Haj pilgrimage and now she was trying to get home.  We phoned the DCO representative, K', who told us he would come and see what he could do, but only if she waited 20 minutes until he could make himself available.  The woman sat and waited in the shed with her five children until she met an acquaintance who offered to drive her and the children.  The woman accepted the offer and said good-bye.

We went through the CP to see what was doing in the vehicle lanesTraffic was flowing slowly as usual.  From the distance we could see that the line at Atarot CP was still very long.

16:20  On our way back to the Palestinian side of the CP we suddenly heard two shots boom out.  According to what we were told by bystanders last week, this must have been rubber bullets.  But, on emerging from the CP, we could see no rock throwing in the vicinity.  On the other hand, a small plot of weeds under the apartment buildings closest to the Wall had apparently caught fire and black, smelly smoke was bllowing into the upper apartments where the family laundry was hanging out to dry on the verandas.

16:45  Inside the CP the lines of people were long and crowdedProgress was very slow.  We phoned the "humanitarian hotline" to suggest that they open another line, but our suggestion was not accepted.

17:00 The soldiers started shooting again, we could not see at whom.

17:15 We left Qalandiya and returned to Jerusalem via Lil.  The CP was being manned by soldiers from an officers' training course who had replaced the regular unit which is now in Gaza.    Although traffic was heavy, it was moving slowly.  Hizmeh CP, on the other hand, was completely jammed and the line of vehicles was backed up well beyond the entrance to the village.