Qalandiya, Thu 17.12.09, Afternoon
2:00 - 4:30 PM
The weather was cold and grey and so was our mood as we entered Qalandia. We looked at the new passages for VIPs only which we had seen a couple of weeks ago as they were constructed. The building had been completed, but we saw now movement of anyone through them. It was almost 3:00 PM when we entered the waiting hall, which was empty. Also the ‘sleeves' leading to the exits were empty at that time of the day. We decided to visit the DCL and to become acquainted with it. Many signs explained what its working hours were and what hours the local post office was open. At the entrance to gate number 5 a note in Arabic informed us that the post office
Was closed (a strike?), but nothing re the DCL. After we had tried a couple of times to shout at the entrance to gate number 5 the gate opened and at the window a polite soldier awaited us. Besides us there was no one at the DCL. We asked him whether he knew who we were and he said he did. We told him we would like to know how a DCL functions at a checkpoint itself and said that we were familiar with the Etzion DCL. He invited us to come in and showed us the instrument that issues magnetic cards. We were surprised at how simple the machine which in Etzion from outside had appeared to us like a monstrosity. He explained to us that the Qalandia DCL services 21 villages in the vicinity, all of them north of the Jerusalem envelope and noted that even the inhabitants of Katana (which is located quaite far off) receive their documents here. He said that they issue hundreds of magnetic cards as a well as other permits for various purposes. He said that here too, like in Etzion, each place is assigned to a specific day of the week. To us it looked as if this place is less threatening and more humane than Etzion.
Our trouble started when we wanted to leave the DCL and all the gates were closed. It took a long times before we found someone who was able to let us out to the entrance hall and from there through the other sleeves out of the CP. When we left there were already quite a lot of people in the entrance hall and at the gates, but the flow of people moved smoothly. Since it was dark so early and getting very cold, we didn't continue.