How a Soldier's Pizza Landed Haaretz in a West Bank Police Station

Reporters detained at Qalandiya as urgent IDF snack mission brings checkpoint traffic to a standstill.

A Haaretz team was detained at the Qalandiyah checkpoint in the West Bank yesterday after telling a soldier who had closed the checkpoint he should not be eating pizza and holding up the traffic mid-shift.

The Qalandiyah checkpoint is infamous for long traffic jams.

Qalandiya - Daniel Bar On - Sept. 17, 2010
Daniel Bar On

After a long wait we reached the security inspection. A military policeman named Tal closed off the road - one of the two traffic lanes - and motioned with his hand to wait. He then took pizza from a delivery man who had arrived and went to the soldiers' room, ignoring the dozens of waiting cars with scores, if not hundreds, of people in them.

Finally the soldier emerged, approached us and asked for ID cards. After handing them to him and identifying ourselves as journalists, we asked how they could close one of the checkpoint's two lanes for pizza.

Yoni, another soldier on the shift, said he was keeping our cards and told us to wait on the side of the road as he was calling the police to question us because we came from the direction of the Palestinian Authority area.

This has never happened to us before. Israelis are allowed to be on the other side of the checkpoint as long as they don't enter PA territory. While we were waiting, we interviewed a Red Crescent medical crew who were taking a child urgent need of dialysis to Augusta Victoria Hospital. They had been waiting for close to an hour for permission to pass.

Policemen arrived after some 20 minutes and took us for questioning at the police station at the checkpoint. The policemen were courteous and businesslike and let us on our way.

The Military Police said in response, " The soldiir acted according to police regulations requiring police inspection of every Jewish Israeli citizen, including a journalist entering the state from PA territory."