Chana S., Ronit D. (reporting); Translator: Judith Green

A quiet morning in Qalandiya


We arrived at the checkpoint about 5:15, after parking on the Israeli side.  Cool weather.  There was no line when we arrived.  The turnstile at the end of the third "cage" was open and everyone could go through it right away.  All 5 stations were already open, though the signs hanging over them still said "closed" (red X).  They changed them to "open" (green V) only a little later  but, most importantly, the pace of the inspection was good and people went by quickly.  We saw only one person sent back.


When we came, we met the bagel and cake sellers as usual.  The coffee stand opened only around 6.  At 5:30, a policeman appeared.  At 5:40, the turnstile was closed and a line began to form.  But, when more people came, lanes 2 and 3 were opened so, after a little while, 3 turnstiles were operating all the time and no long lines were formed.  The policeman went out the aquarium occasionally and looked around.  Women who arrived joined the line in front of the "cages".  Some of them waited, like the men, at the end of the line, which moved reasonably quickly.  Also a family who came chose to wait in the regular line and not to wait and see if they opened the Humanitarian line.


At a certain point, a verbal battle began between 2 people which rapidly deteriorated into a fist fight.  Luckily, other people intervened and separated them.  The opening of the turnstiles calmed them down and everyone hurried to get into the lines and go through.  Once in a while, we heard a female soldier on the loud speaker or we saw someone who was turned back, but, in general, it was calm.  At about 6, a couple with a babyinfo-icon arrived.  They asked the policeman for the Humanitarian Gate, but he said that it would not be opening.  So, they turned to the regular line and were allowed to join it at the entrance to the "cage".


At 6:15 the policeman left.  We joined the line at 6:30 and, as we were waiting, a guard arrived and joined the female soldier in the aquarium.  Within 10 minutes, we were outside.