Qalandiya, Tue 23.7.13, Morning
"Things work better when you're here"
For the first time in a while at midweek, lines extending almost to the parking lot greeted us when we arrived at 5:45 a.m. Before we even reached the shed, individuals approached us to say how bad the past two days had been. Again and again, disparate people who came over to talk to us, or beckoned us to come talk to them as they stood in line, complained that it had taken them about an hour and a half to traverse the checkpoint on the previous two mornings. Many asked why MachsomWatch was present only today and expressed the belief (would that it were so) that things work better when we are around, encouraging us to enhance our morning presence at Qalandiya.
The Humanitarian Gate opened at 6:15, after our call to the Humanitarian Line, and was opened again about every 10 minutes thereafter until 7:00. Three women who arrived as a family (one in her 50s or 60s and two younger women with two young children) were not allowed through the Humanitarian Gate and, despite the explanation of the DCO soldier on duty, could not understand why – since they had gone through the checkpoint last Friday for Ramadan prayers. Once we solicited the help of a man seated on one of the benches as a translator, it turned out that the women were turned away because they did not have permits. They had great difficulty understanding why the older woman was able to go through on Friday and not today, but our translator explained that last Friday was an exception for Ramadan Friday prayers (or a fluke). We suggested that they might try to apply for permits when the DCO opened at 8:30 but, after appealing a second time to the DCO soldier – who patiently explained that even were he to let them through, they would be stopped and returned at the checking station – they left in despair.
The lines were contained within two of the “cages” and people were no longer lining up by the Humanitarian Gate when we left at 7:00. The line of cars going through the vehicle checkpoint remained long, however, and moved slowly.