Another difficult day in Qalandiya
We arrived at 05:15. The lines in the checkpoint for pedestrians are out at the parking lot. At this stage there were three organized lines, and we made our way through the lines towards the shed. Inside we saw that only three stands are open, and the speed of letting people through was very slow. A big group of people were praying aside, and after they finished praying they joined the lines and others went to pray, they put a piece of carton paper on the floor and kneel on it. Inside too people went to pray against the closed workstations no. 4 and 5, since waiting for the checkup was very long. When the turnstiles were operated people entered neatly, but inside the enclosure it was very crowded and condensed. We called the DCO in order to ask them to open the closed stands, but the noise prevented us from hearing the answer. At this stage, as long as the lines were still neat, there was nobody waiting at the humanitarain gate, which is supposed to open at 06:00.
Arround 05:30 we witnessed the process in which three neat lines turn within a few seconds into one big mass of people pushing forwards in order to push their way into the enclosures. This time we saw exactely how that happens. Our impression is that this is the result of the way the turnstiles at the end of the enclosures are openned (and enable people to get towards the checkup stands). They are openned very scarecely, and then for too long a time! This is instead of openning them every few minutes, and letting less people in each time, in a way that will give the people the feeling that they get forwards slowly slowly. What happenned actually was that: After they waited patiently at least 10 minutes since the last openning of the turnstiles, they finally open. At the bigginning the line starts moving forwards neatly, but at a certain point, since the turnstiles did not stop, there were probably some people (mostly young) who felt that if they will be quick enough to run and get into the enclosures they will make it this time through the turnstiles. Once one or two start runnig in an attempt to go around the line and enter the enclosure others join them and immediately there is a heap of people pushing instead of lines. Parallel to the movement of the young people forwards, the older people and those who are afraid to be hurt in the crowd move backwards. Some joing the prayer that is communal again. In the meanwhile the turnstiles stopped again, of course, and there is only a heap of pushing people, who shove their way into the line, young people climbe on top of each other, and there is shouting and banging on the tin sheets. Again it was just horrible, and as expected it took over an hour for the pressure to be released, and the lines were neat again.
In the meanwhile some of the people went to wait at the humanitarian gate. Some women joined them, as well as youngsters and others who had arrived. Many people turned to us and complaind about the situation. They say that during the last months it got worse than before. They complain about the fact that they are not allowed to go through the other checkpoints, where there is not such pressure.
The pace of openning the turnstiles was very slow, and every once in a while as a long time had passed since the last time they were open, people started showting, whistling, calling the soldiers and banging on the tin sheets in order to made the passage quicker. A policeman arrived, walked and and out the aquarium where the soldiers sit, but nothing changed.
Only at 05:50 stands no. 4 and 5 were openned, and then the turnstiles were openned a bit more often, but still, the pace of the checkup in the stands was very slow, and there was no improvement in the state of the heap of people around the enclosures. Waiting by the humanitairan gate there are already many people waiting. A man wearing a tie turns to us. He tells us that he is a taxi driver who has to take his passangers through the humanitarian gate in order to take them to the airport. He is afraid they will miss their flight. We could offer him nothing but to wait for the representatives of the DCO.
A littel after 06:00 the humanitarian gate is not open yet. Two young men from "human rights blue and white" arrived, and now they called to find out why it is not open yet. The policeman starts to make signs as to open the humanitarian gate, and indeed, by 06:10 the representatives of the DCO arrived, and it was finally open. Stand 5 is now only for the humanitarian gate (was separated by a police fence from the others) but the checkup is very slow. The n.c.o. and another soldier from the MTK with the policeman checked those passing through the humanitarian gate, and a policewoman guided the soldiers how to open and close the turnstiles. As usual she is quite efficient, but the pace of checkup today is still very slow.
In the meanwhile we met A. who has come in order to pay for putting in the pettion to court for his son (see the report of Liora G. who had met the father and son when the son came in order to sign in her presence the documents required for filing the pettition).
Only at 07:00 the line by the humanitarian gate went through, but the regular line was still one heap, behind which there were three orderly lines starting to get formed. All the time there were more people who went to the humanitarian gate.
We left around 0' when the regular line started finaly getting the shape of theree lines, as it was two hours ago. Many were still waiting, and the humanitarian gate was still active, as there were more people who arrived and waited there.