For 2 hours, Palestinian teachers detained at checkpoint in Tel Rumeida
by ISM Hebron8 April 2007
TEL RUMEIDA, HEBRON– At 12:40, just as Palestinian school teachers from the Qurtuba Girls’ School were approaching the Israeli checkpoint to go home, two Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint went inside the monitoring post, locked themselves in. The school teachers refuse to pass through the metal detectors in the main body of the checkpoint and so need the soldiers to open the side gate at the checkpoint to let them pass. The teachers have a long-standing agreement with the District Coordinating Office (DCO) that they can pass through the side gate every day, although the teachers often are forced to wait long whiles before the soldiers adhere to this agreement.
The teachers knocked on the door of the monitoring post but the soldiers refused to respond. Human rights workers (HRWs) and members of the Ecumenical Accompagniment Programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) attempted to negotiate with the soldiers through the glass inside the checkpoint. The soldiers pretended to not hear. Numerous phone calls were made by the HRWs to the DCO but the Israeli officers who answered the phones said they did not speak English. The HRWs contacted a member of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) who then also contacted the DCO. According to ACRI, the DCO claimed they had given the soldiers the order to open the gate for the Palestinian teachers.
The soldiers remained locked inside their monitoring post for approximately 50 minutes, exiting the checkpoint only briefly to collect food from another soldier. The soldiers still operated the main checkpoint doors during this period while the Palestinian teachers continued to wait for the soldiers to open the side gate.
Once the soldiers finally emerged from the monitoring post, they still refused to let the teachers through. The soldiers did, however, unlock the gate for a local Palestinian man and his donkey, and also for a Palestinian man in a wheelchair. The soldiers then started checking the bags of the schoolchildren as they passed through the checkpoint.
At 14:20, almost 2 hours after the Palestinian teachers arrived at the checkpoint, soldiers unlocked the gate and allowed the teachers to pass.