A crowded morning at Qalandiya.
We arrived shortly after 05:00 and this time decided to park before the checkpoint and cross on foot. Crossing on foot to the Palestinian side goes quickly, with no inspection or delays. Once through, long lines awaited us. Only three inspection booths were open and the crossing went very slowly. Each time the revolving gates opened very briefly and only a few managed to go through. And when the revolving gates at the exit from the cages opened, not all three did. One remained closed and those on line before it complained. We managed to call it to the attention of the female soldier in the aquarium and she opened it for a longer time than the other two and then opened all three simultaneously.
At 05:25 booth 4 opened, and number 5 at 05:35. In the meantime a policeman arrived, but still few people were admitted each time and the lines lengthened, reaching the closed parking lot. H, our acquaintance, and his colleagues say yesterday and the day before things were OK; the crossing operated more quickly. Today everything is slow and the lines are growing longer. As a result there’s also a line of people waiting for the humanitarian gate to open.
Six o’clock came and went; the humanitarian gate still didn’t open. A security guard arrived only at approximately 06:15 and then the policeman opened the humanitarian gate. Shortly afterwards an officer and another security guard arrived; they opened the humanitarian gate from time to time but were very strict about allowing men through; they’re usually permitted to enter. One man expected us to help him, but was disappointed when we explained we couldn’t – So why are you here?, he asked.
We entered the humanitarian gate with the last group to go through, refusing the guard’s offer to let us bypass the line, preferring to wait with the Palestinians for inspection at booth 5. The guard claimed that lines are always longer on Sunday and Wednesday than on other days; apparently there are more people. According to our experience there have been many Wednesdays on which the lines haven’t been so long and people crossed more quickly.
Inspection was quick; it took us about 12 minutes to go through. Including the walk to the car it took 15 minutes, faster than the slow progress in the vehicle line around the plaza…