Very Easy Morning
All five checking stations were open and there were no lines as the turnstile at the end of one of the “cages” was open to all comers when I arrived at the checkpoint at 6:30. The beigale seller said that the same had been true earlier in the morning, and so it remained until I left at 8:00. A DCO officer was present but it was not necessary to open the Humanitarian Gate, except for when a man arrived in a wheelchair, whereupon the officer opened it immediately for him and those accompanying him.
At 7:00 the group arrived. It consisted of 12 people of all ages (no children, of course); was organized by the Sharq travel agency in Germany in cooperation with the Heinrich Boll Foundation; and was traveling in both Palestine and Israel. I briefed the group about the operation of the checkpoint, as well as the activities of MachsomWatch. The group was alert, asked interesting questions, and we parted with an understanding to remain in contact with its leader, who happens to be studying in Israel, with an eye to briefing future groups. I also told them about our English-language tours and invited them to take part in them in the future. The request for the meeting and briefing at Qalandiya came in an email address to the MachsomWatch Tours address.
At 8:00 I walked directly through one of the cages to a checking station, which I likewise passed through immediately.
Although traffic was light through the pedestrian checkpoint, the morning traffic jam through the vehicle checkpoint seemed to be particularly bad this morning. Heavy trucks moving in both directions spent much of the morning sounding their horns in frustration. Walking back to the parking lot on the southern side of the checkpoint I noticed that the traffic jam also extended to cars traveling north through the checkpoint in the direction of A-Ram and Ramallah.