A cold and calm morning
6:10 We arrived at the Qalandiya Checkpoint to find it almost empty. The three “cages” actually were empty, as each new arrival moved directly through an open turnstile to the waiting areas for the checking stations. We spoke with a number of people entering the checkpoint or manning food and coffee stands and all reported that the situation was similar on the previous morning (Monday), though on Sunday the checkpoint was full of people and the waiting time was long. No one had an explanation or even supposition about why there were so few people at the usual morning “peak.” We floated the notion of the proximity to Christmas, but it didn’t resonate with our interlocutors. It took us ten minutes to get through the check point, most of the time on the line leading into the checking station.
We arrived at the Shu'afat Camp checkpoint close to 7:00 a.m. and, after asking a number of people leaving the checkpoint about the lines at the entrance thereto – and being told that there were “many people on line” and a similar observation about the line leading to the vehicle checkpoint – we decided not to enter the camp for fear of being stuck there for more time than we had at our disposal. Therefore we could not verify the extent of lines with our own eyes. What we could see was a slow but constant exit of people from the pedestrian checkpoint, mostly at that hour middle and high school children (though there were a few young elementary school children among them).
One bus of school pupils drove through the vehicle checkpoint without a soldier or policeman boarding it to check the passengers. But we could not see whether such a check had been done earlier in the line or in the buses’ parking lot. Sometimes the trunks of cars were checked and sometimes not. There was a slow but steady stream of vehicles moving through the checkpoint, but, as noted earlier, we could not see the length of the line waiting inside the camp.