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Chana Stein (translating), Ronit Dahah-Ramati (reporting)

Morning after a disturbed night in Qalandiya; queues collapsed twice; the humanitarian gate opened late and closed early.

05.15. Arriving on the Israeli side, we passed a group at prayer, and went through to the Palestinian side. The lines were already long, extending towards the parking lot, although the 5 checking points were open. The kiosk was open, but the beigel seller hadn’t arrived. Later, when we met him, we learned this was because all night and towards morning, I.D.F. was active in Qalandiya. A number of arrests were made and there were also some clashes.  Someone showed us pictures of those arrested.  Another man told us that he comes from Maharbata (next to Bet Sira, Modi’in) but, because he works in Atarot, he has to pass through Qalandiya. Today the road was closed because the army activity in Qalandiya was not yet over, and people had to do a big detour.

At one stage two policemen arrived and went straight away to checking station no.3.  apparently the turnstile there was not working, and so they had people enter through the gate at its side. Then they departed.

A man hesitantly approached us and asked what we do, if we have an office. He clearly needed some help. We explained a bit about our helping those refused permits, etc. He took us aside and showed us a video on his camerainfo-icon, an item of news on Channel 10 six months ago, during Ramadan. The item described arrests being made by the Palestinian Authority in Qalandiya. The action was in co-operation with I.D.F., but the Palestinian troops went into Kfar Akeb – a neighbourhood annexed to Jerusalem, but over the separation fence. During these events shots were fired, wounding also a 15 year-old boy, uninvolved in the affair. The item concentrated on the seriousness of the fact that Palestinian Authority forces operated in an area that is supposed to be under Israeli control.  The man talking to us was worried about something else: that boy is his son.  He was wounded, treated at Hadassah, and is now in Alyn.  The father is himself originally from Bethehem and has a green Palestinian I.D.  The mother is a resident of Kfar Akeb and, therefore, has a blue I.D. That is why the boy gets the necessary medical treatment in Jerusalem.  What disturbs the man is that no one takes any interest in the boy. According to him, no official source has noticed him.  From the Palestinian Authority, they did take an interest, and offered the father’s family in Bethlehem help, but when they learned that the boy is registered in Israel and entitled to medical care according to Israeli health law, they retreated. The father wants to arouse interest in Israeli media, in his son’s fate.

Meanwhile the lines were getting longer, and crowds formed at the entrance to the cages.
And at 5.45 the queues collapsed and the crowd piled up. Anyone who didn’t want to be pushed, withdrew, and a line formed at the humanitarian gate. At about 6, a guard arrived, followed by a policewoman. The blonde D.C.O. officer arrived only at 6.10, and it took a few minute more before the gate was opened. This week, too, she left again at about 6.45, although there were queues. People protested to the guard and the policewoman, but their reaction was to go into the aquarium, closing the door behind them so as not to hear the shouts! Men and women kept approaching the gate, and there was no one to open it for them. We phoned the D.C.O., but without success.  At one stage a man arrive with a toddler to go to a hospital. We advised him to stand next to us so that there would be a better chance of the policewoman’s noticing them. Indeed after a couple of minutes the guard saw us and we signaled to him and he came to us.  He said he didn’t have a key to open the gate. We asked him to call the policewoman, as the previous week she had helped a babyinfo-icon through the cages. This worked.  The policewoman made the people crowded around the cage entrance make way for the man and child. After him a few women managed to force their way in, as well.  Then she told the soldier to open the turnstile and keep it open until the man and child were through.

At a certain stage lines were once again formed – at last – and women and old folk could manage to filter in.  But this didn’t last long and the lines collapsed a second time.  It took a long time until orderly lines again formed and everyone could join.

At 7.45 the lines were short and we joined one.  It took us 30 minutes to pass through.