Qalandiya - At the vehicle checkpoint, a huge traffic jam

Virginia Syvan, Ina Friedman (reporting)

A Quiet Morning (Which Appears to be the New Norm)

When we arrived at 6:15 we immediately noticed construction activity by the exit from the pedestrian checkpoint (more on this at the end). Other than that, there is little to report. We spent an hour at the entrance to the new checkpoint and watched as a steady stream of people passed us on their way in. But we never saw a build-up of people inside the “slalom” that winds into the building , leading us to understand that everything continued to flow inside, as well. A number of people wished us “Good morning,” or waved at us from further afar, but no one approached us to talk or ask for help. We, too, passed through the checkpoint quickly (notwithstanding the need to provide a medical explanation for why the metal detector beeped when one of us passed through it).

On our way back to our cars, we were stopped by a young man who had talked to us the last time we were at Qalandiya. He explained the signs of construction we saw by saying that he worked on the crew building a pedestrian bridge to carry people over Road 60 – the main north-south road here, going south from Kafr Aqeb to Beit Hanina and the Old City – to the new bus and taxi parking lot west of the road.

With regard to that same road, which passes through Qalandiya’s  vehicle checkpoint, the same man again raised the issue of the huge traffic jam caused (at least in part) by the checkpoint.  He explained that he lives a quarter of an hour by foot from the checkpoint but when he manages to get a lift with a car in his neighborhood, it  takes three times that long to reach and pass through it. We can see that there is extensive road work on the western approach to the checkpoint  (i.e. from the direction of Road 443/50), but we have not been able to figure out where this upgraded road is meant to lead and how – as long as soldiers stop each car to check the identity cards of the passengers going through the vehicle checkpoint – the morning rush-hour traffic jam will not be eliminated or even eased. An explanation from the powers, which we can share with troubled people on site, would be most appreciated.