All five checking stations were open when we arrived at 5:10 (!!) and new arrivals were entering freely through the cages. When the turnstiles were closed at about 5:20, however, lines began to build up, undoubtedly because the pace in the checking stations seemed particularly slow. From 5:30 to 7:00, therefore, the lines extended out to beyond the covered area of checkpoint. When we left at 7:00, the lines did not extend beyond the cages.
The Civil Administration soldier came out at 6:10, opened the Humanitarian Gate, and opened it again each time a group of people had gathered in front of it.
One man whose permit showed that he was an UNRWA worker but who also had a card showing that he is a mathematics teacher was turned away from the Humanitarian Gate and asked for our help. He said that this was the first time he had been turned away at the gate, and he was rather agitated. But when we intervened on his behalf, the Civil Administration solider and policewoman on duty were adamant that the word “schoolteacher” must to appear on the permit itself in order for him to be eligible to use the gate. The man told us that “UNRWA worker” is the only thing that appears on all permits of UNRWA people; that’s why he carries the schoolteacher’s card with him. Ultimately we suggested that he try to get a new permit as a “schoolteacher,” though we suspect that UNWRA itself will have to work out a problem of this sort with the Civil Administration.
The mood at Qalandiya was oddly upbeat. All kinds of people waved to us (including one of the security guards we had never met), thanked us for being there, and called us over to talk and joke around with us. I am always astonished that people arrive at Qalandiya in the cold and pitch dark armed with a sense of humor. The EAPPI volunteer who stood with us noted that Palestinians come with three kinds of bones: Sadly I’ve forgotten what the first is, but the second is backbone to endure oppression and the third is a funny bone to cope with all the absurdities built into occupation.
AUTHORITIES PLEASE NOTE: The roof covering the waiting area of the checkpoint is leaking badly along the seams(and it wasn’t even raining that morning).