Qalandiya - Slow checking leads to collapse of queues; one can take comfort in coffee and falafel!
05.15. The café on the Israel side is once again open and full. People coming out of the checkpoint tell us that conditions are good today.
When we arrived 5 checking stations were open, but queues extended beyond the shed. At this point speed seemed reasonable. Today, in addition to the beigel-seller there is a falafel stall. Later we photographed the man preparing the falafel. There is also a young man circulating with cups of coffee which are apparently prepared at a kiosk at the entrance to the refugee camp.
From a queue our friend H. calls to us. He tells us that on the Eid he did not work and his boss was angry and since then has not paid him. He clearly expects H. to arrive to work during Hol Ha-mo’ed, in spite of the closure…
At this stage checking is still proceeding at a reasonable pace, and the lines sometimes get short but then lengthen again. At 6.15 the humanitarian gate opens, but then checking seems to slow down and also fewer people are allowed through at each opening of the turnstiles. At times only 4 stations are open. People tell us that in a month’s time the new section of the checkpoint will open. We asked the D.C.O. soldier about this, and he said that this planned only towards the end of 2019!
Outside we saw that the entrance from the road in the direction of the new roundabout[?] at the entrance to the checkpoint is blocked by two yellow booms, with road spikes in one direction. Beyond these booms, stood a jeep with some soldiers or border police. There did not seem to be any particular problem. People passed them without paying attention and no one was detained by them.
As we returned to the shed we photographed the lines stretching out of the shed.
Then suddenly we heard a noise from inside, signaling the collapse of the lines. In a second the lines outside vanished, while inside the usual sight met us of piles of people crushed at the entrance to the cages and the benches full of those trying to avoid being hurt.
This time it took 40 minutes before order was restored. Meanwhile we sat on a bench and bought coffee from the young man who agreed to be photographed.
Towards 8 o’clock, the guard and D.C.O. soldier left into the shed and from there outside. We went to see if something untoward had happened, but all was quiet. They walked to the end of the new building, and climbed the pile of rubble where other soldiers were standing (apparently those of the jeep). Afterwards only the guard returned, but the humanitarian gate was not opened again.
At about 8.30 we joined the lines that had finally got reasonably short. At this time there are also the older people who can pass at 8 o’clock without permits. It took 30 minutes to pass. Also, the journey into town was slow because of the late hour and because the summer holidays are over.