A very crowded morning at Qalandiya.
We arrived a little after 05:00. At least two lanes were open at the vehicle checkpoint, and no line! We hoped that was a good sign for the pedestrian checkpoint, but unfortunately we were wrong. The lines already reached the parking lot, three inspection stations inside were open and the crossing went very slowly. At about 05:20 the two remaining stations opened and the lines moved faster.
The loudspeaker announced that lane 4 was limited to people without backpacks or plastic bags. But people with bags continued to go there (almost no one arrives without a plastic bag, apparently containing their lunch, and some have knapsacks and other belongings). The loudspeaker repeated the announcement a few times during the morning. Inspections went faster with all the stations open; the rate was reasonable. People stood patiently and pretty quietly on orderly lines. We couldn’t determine why today’s lines were so long. Perhaps because yesterday was one of our holidays (Independence Day) and closure had been imposed, more people came today, like on a Sunday.
Caroline, a student from Germany, accompanied us today. She’s conducting research on the situation. We explained how the checkpoint usually operates. Though at the beginning we’d told her things weren’t so good today, but relatively not bad, we later corrected ourselves, telling her things were definitely bad. While there was no pushing and shouting, the lines went on and on. Toward 6 AM people reported the lines reached the road (i.e., all the way through the parking lot). Caroline went to look; she said they didn’t reach the road, but extended deep into the parking lot.
The humanitarian lane opened slightly after 6 AM; this time many waited to cross because the regular line was very long. Whenever a group of people had collected by the gate an officer came to open it. Slightly before 7 AM we went to see how the lines were outside, and whether the situation had finally eased, but we saw there were still long lines in the parking lot (cf. photos).
We left shortly after 7 AM; the lines were still long. It was particularly discouraging to see people standing quietly, as if accepting their fate. After our two previous shifts, during which the situation with the lines had been reasonable, we hoped steps had been taken to improve conditions at the checkpoint (perhaps as a result of the discussion in the Knesset Public Petitions Committee and the subsequent meeting of the relevant bodies which was reported on the net). It was frustrating to see again such long lines, people wasting many minutes and even hours on them.
The road to the vehicle checkpoint is crowded as usual. People drive the wrong way around the roundabout, trying to save a few minutes on line. The frustrating occupation routine.