Qalandiya, 7/2/2011, PM
On a cold and stormy winter afternoon, the pedestrian terminal at Qalandiya CP looks deserted. Almost no one is sitting in the northern shed and only the few remaining peddlers sit there with nothing to do, bent over and hugging themselves against the cold, waiting for what? Inside the CP only one passageway is active, with only a few people on line.
On the other hand, the DCO looks much busier. As was the case last week, we could see (through the bars) that there were people sitting and waiting in the shed, but when we tried to enter we found that the turnstile was locked. We went back and got on line in the active passageway. When we reached the Jerusalem side of the CP, we tried another turnstile there that leads to the DCO and local government offices. Surprisingly, it was not locked and so we got into the DCO shed. There were not that many people waiting (less than 10) and they managed rather quickly to enter the offices. We met a gentleman in his 50's or 60's who lives in the Dahiyat al Barid neighborhood and holds a Palestinian ID. He told us that he was out of the country at the time of the 6 Day War, when the Israeli government distributed IDs to residents of Jerusalem, working as a teacher in Algeria. When he returned in 1970 the authorities were no longer willing to issue blue resident IDs (although all his family held them). When the Wall was built, Palestinian residents of Dahiyat al Barid were given 2-year permits to live in their homes, but now the two years were up and he had come to Qalandiya to renew his permit. He told us that the permit allowed him to move between Dahiya and Qalandiya, but nowhere else in Jerusalem – he was imprisoned in a virtual cage. A day earlier his daughter, who lives in Silwan, phoned to tell him that she had fallen and broken a leg, but he couldn't visit her as his permit is not valid outside his neighborhood. This man had arrived quite late, just before 4 PM, and we worried that he would not be received by the DCO. But both he and a DCO officer assured us that the DCO is open until 5 PM and receives all those waiting in the shed (access to which closes at 4).
We remained at Qalandiya until just before 5 PM and returned to Jerusalem via Lil/Jabba and Hizmeh CPs. At Lil the soldiers were snugly tucked into their positions, out of the cold and rain. Traffic was flowing. In Hizmeh as well.