Qalandiya, Friday, 4.2.11
Few people at the checkpoint. We didn’t see West Bank residents coming to Friday prayer at the al-Aqsa mosque. A number of men told us that no permits were given this week. Fear of demonstrations in Jerusalem because of the rebellion by the people of Egypt. This was confirmed by the Palestinian news web sites. In addition to denying residents of the West Bank permits to pray at al-Aqsa, the Israeli police deployed in East Jerusalem ready to react to demonstrations. We saw a vehicle with a water cannon at the entrance to the Old City’s New Gate.
As we said, there were few people at the checkpoint – a Friday checkpoint with no police or DCO representatives. The bus lane is closed; some confusion in the vehicle lane where, no matter how few cars there are, somehow there’s always a mess. Pedestrians go through the usual lane without much delay because there are so few people. No peddlers at the checkpoint or around it, but beyond the plaza Abu Ahmad gave us hot tea and said that the army hasn’t yet chased him off because he’s farther away. I want to stress that we saw no abuse or problems caused by the army, nor endless waits at the revolving gates – because there weren’t many people there. Palestinians didn’t come because they’d been denied permits.