A calm morning and pleasant conversation at Qalandiya checkpoint
At 5.15 we arrived, parking as usual on the Israeli side. On the way to the Palestinian side on foot, we are greeted by those who have passed through. Inside, the 5 checking stations are open. The lines were short and remained so. At no stage did the lines extend beyond the hut. The few women who arrived joined the lines entering the passages, from the side. When we arrived, there was already a policeman, as well as the soldier operating the turnstile.
Towards 6 o’clock, two men approached the humanitarian gate. We advised them not to wait there, as it was unlikely that the gate would open and, indeed, there was no need. Women and other people who would normally use the humanitarian gate did not even approach it, because they could pass quickly in the normal line.
We drank tea at the kiosk – which had not been open last week on our visit, because Muhammed, the owner, had stayed home to attend to his sick father. We were invited to sit on stools with three men, who were waiting for transport to Ramallah. They work in the poultry factory Of Yerushalayim in Atarot. They had not heard about the meat that had been smuggled from Ramallah. They had finished their night shift of 12 hours, from 18.00 till 6.00 in the morning. At present there is a lot of work, before Pesach. They tell us that Ramallah is lively and there is a lot of new modern building. They worry about the state of the youth, who are pushed by despair into stabbings and “nonsense.” They ask us who has sent us and we tell them about Machsomwatch. Today conditions are very good at the checkpoint, but they say that earlier in the work it had been very bad. Yesterday the lines stretched all the way across the parking-lot, reaching the road!
At about 6.15 we joined the queue. We noticed that another policeman and security man had arrived. The soldier managing the turnstile announced from time to time which checking stations had short lines and directed people to them. Here, too, people told us of the difficult conditions earlier in the week. Everyone is pleased with a day like today, when everything flowed so quickly and efficiently. Within 15 minutes we were outside, reaching town centre before the morning traffic jams.