'Atarot, Hizma, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Mon 30.3.09, Afternoon

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  Natanya G. and Phyllis W .( reporting  )

15:30:  The line of cars at Atarot CP was extremely long.  We walked along the side of the road to count the number of cars waiting in line but gave up at 130.  The line was backed up at least as far as the intersection with Road No. 443.  We walked back to the head of the line and reported our findings to the soldiers, but this just made them angry, "what are we supposed to do when there are alerts?" they asked.  The soldiers were selectively checking the papers of passing Palestinians and also opening and checking the cargos of trucks.  We clocked the time it took one "sample" car to pass at 23 minutes.

16:00 QalandiyaWhen we reached Qalandiya there were 9 buses standing in the northern square.  Inside the pedestrian CP two passageways were working with only a few people in each line.  There was no line at all in the northern shed.  At this time of day the DCO offices were closed but we saw a man waiting by the gate holding some medical documents including an invitation to Mukassad Hospital in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning.  We called the DCO for him.  They spoke to the man and told him to go to the Palestinian DCO in A-Ram.

16:30:  We passed through the CP in Passageway No. 4.  On emerging on the Jerusalem side, we found 18 men, women and children waiting.  They were all upset and told us that their ID's had been confiscated in the passageway and that they had been told to wait outside for their return.  They had already been waiting about 20 minutes and were very worried.  We phoned the Humanitarian Hotline to demand an explanation, and we phoned Mahdi as well (even though he wasn't on duty at Qalandiya).  Suddenly a female soldier accompanied by a security guard appeared and returned all the IDs, passing them through the fence.  We asked her what was happening and she explained that they were performing a "routine extra check."  It is probably pointless to mention that this "routine" is completely new and in all our years at Qalandiya we have never seen anything like it.  A few minutes later the same soldier and her guard reappeared and entered the "command" room of Passageway No. 3.  The first "fish" they caught was an old Palestinian woman who didn't speak any Hebrew and couldn't understand why they had taken her ID and not returned it.  She was very upset and the soldier in the command room, losing patience with her, began to shout at her and insult her.  The situation was very disturbing, especially as we couldn't do anything to help.  In the end the woman emerged from the passageway followed by another ten people whose IDs had been taken for the extra routine check.  At this point we could explain to them what was going on and give them an estimate of the time they would have to wait.  We actually remained there long enough to see the soldier return and distribute the treasured IDs to the waiting crowd.  It's hard to understand why everything has to be done with so little sensitivity and so abusively (aside from the fact that that's how occupations work, I guess).  Most of the people passing through Qalandiya are just ordinary folk who are not planning any terrorist activities, so why are they treated as criminals?

By the way, Mahdi explained to us that the extra check was performed because Monday was "Land Day" for the Palestinians.

16:46:  We went through to the vehicle CP once again.  We could see from the distance that the line of cars at Atarot CP still reached beyond the horizon.  At Qalandiya, the line of cars going to Ramallah was backed up half back to Atarot CP.  Six buses were standing in the northern square, waiting to pass through the CP and pick up the passengers they had discharged.

17:20:  We left Qalandiya and returned to Jerusalem via Lil and Hizmeh.  There were no lines at Lil, but selective checks were being made on the transits (small passenger vans)..