The vast and imposing terminal built by Occupation Forces at Qalandiya serves as one of the key checkpoints in the control of Palestinian movement. It opened in December 2005 causing misery, frustration, and most of all humiliation, for the thousands of Palestinians who pass it every day for work, education, basic services and visiting family. A cross section of Palestinians forced to use the terminal, recounted their experiences and explained how the intensifying Occupation is making life unbearable.

***image2***Deema Abu Hyala, Sabreen Abu Hyala, Dalal al Halawani and Siham al Halwani, Students at al Ahed secondary school in al-Ram, all12-13 years old.

“Now we come to the terminal at 6 o’clock in the morning and sometimes 5.30 am. It is always very crowded in the morning. They make us wait an hour to enter the first set of revolving doors. These doors are blocked and we can’t pass them unless the light is green. When we start the checking process we must go through X-ray gates. We have to put our bags on a table with X-ray machines to be checked. It looks like when you go to Jordan. First we give them the birth certificate. Then they shout at us to come to the next checking procedure. We are too young and we don’t have IDs yet, so we can’t pass without the certificate. Once Sabreen forgot it, so they turned her back. They are liars. Every time they announce that the new structures put in place will make traveling easier but they make life more complicated.”

One of the girls continued: “I always feel very afraid when I go through the checking procedure. I am scared if any of my things ring, especially after I saw a boy forced to take off his pants. When he was under the x-ray gate, it rang many times, so the soldiers asked him to take off his jacket and pants. In the end it was something on his pants that made the sensors ring. This is very humiliating. I can’t take my clothes off in front of the people and soldiers.”

Muhammed Maher, 20 years old, student at al-Quds Open University in Ramallah.

“Every day I pass through Qalandiya and every day I wait at least 2 hours for my turn. Many times they don’t choose the line in which I am waiting in. There are five lines in total and you can be lucky if you queue up in the right one.

“It is like you are traveling to another country or from a port. It is really a horrible experience. The checking procedure takes some 15-20 minuets. First I put my ID into a small hole, then they shout at me to go the body checking process. I have to take off my jacket and belt, all metallic things and my bag and put them aside. I have to go to another side to be checked under the X-ray gate. It is the same kind of machinery used on the bridge to Jordan, if you have ever seen it. Once the machine rang while I was under checking. It was horrible that I have to pass again. I find myself asking what is life worth when I have to go through this every day.

“Some times I try to go through Surda (a checkpoint to the north of Ramallah reached after one and a half hours of driving from Qalandiya and soon not to be accessible from Qalandiya) However, this costs me three and four times the money than passing through Qalandiya and it also takes a very long time.

***image3***“The Occupation puts a rose outside the terminal. It is something weird, I don’t know what it is supposed to symbolise. You don’t know what to do when you see it. I would love to tear it apart. They put you in this misery and humiliating situation and then they confront you with this. It is not our hope – it is all that damages our hopes.”

Amani Syam, 22 years old.

“I am a student at Abu Dis University. I pass Qalandiya every day and it is really terrible for me. It is endless waiting before you reach your classes. I need to wait 2 hours for my turn. Many times I missed classes, especially in the first few days after they opened the terminal. It was not allowed for the Palestinians with West Bank IDs to pass through it. Later I realized how much I must wait every day. Now I come 2 hours before my classes. The checking process is madness. You feel like a criminal or an animal. The queuing up is very humiliating, but moreover, traumatic. The most disturbing is that you know it is all just to make you waste time and to treat you badly. It is not for security or any thing like this. They want to impose “borders” like this. It is a political issue, they also put that rose to make us more angry and frustrated. They play with our feelings. I don’t now how I will continue this way of life. The situation is getting worse and worse everyday.

Ahmed Ayyesh 27 years old from Biddu

“I’m working in Ramallah. I have been forced to go through the new checkpoint system every day. Since the start of the second Intifada, I used to reach the work very late so I decide to live in Ramallah in order so I wouldn’t lose my job. Every three days I returned home to see my family and to wash my clothes.

***image4***“In the end the Palestinian resistance killed one of the soldiers at the Qalandiya checkpoint. They completely closed it and I didn`t see my family for three weeks. Yesterday I decided to visit them. When I reached the new fortified checkpoint in Qalandiya I was shocked. It seems that you are going to another country, it is like the Bridge (to Jordan). A lot of people are waiting, soldiers are shouting from the loud speakers. It creates a horrible atmosphere. They closed all the lines and around six hundred people were waiting for a light to be green. In the end one of the booths was working while the others were closed. I waited over an hour for my turn, in vain. You hear many soldiers using loud speakers and speaking at the same time. You don’t understand what they are saying. Moreover, you don’t see them. It is noisy and very sickening. Suddenly the soldiers got irritated and started shouting at us to leave the lines and go to the waiting hall. I waited another 40 minutes then I went back to Ramallah.

“What is an even more revolting provocation is the rose they put at the sides of the fortified checkpoint. They treat you as animals and then they show you roses!”


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