Bitterly cold and slow at Qalandiya checkpoint

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Natanya Ginsburg, Chana Stein (reporting)

Cold and slow at Qalandiya.

05.20.  Bitterly cold, but conditions looked promising on our arrival.  Many people were coming out of the checkpoint, a large group was praying at the entrance on the Israel side, and the queues were short enough to be contained within the cages.The soldier in the aquarium was working efficiently.

However within a short time more and more people arrived, and the lines became long enough to extend outside the shed. Suddenly at 5.55 the queues collapsed and there was the usual chaos.  The one positive aspect was that this brought all those waiting outside in the icy-cold wind to the relative shelter of the shed!

The D.C.O. officer arrived shortly after 6 o’clock followed by a guard, and she opened the humanitarian gate. Of course many men who had fallen out of the queues tried their luck there, but only those entitled to use the gate were admitted. Unfortunately the gate was closed at 7 o’clock – true, there wasn’t a queue there at the time, but there was a steady stream of women and children arriving afterwards and it was difficult for them to fit into the cages under the circumstances. (In general, the men are very generous in allowing women to enter.) We phoned twice to ask that someone come to reopen the gate, only to receive the standard answer “I will check.”

Gradually the queues re-formed, and once again were long enough to stretch  beyond the shed. At 7.50 we joined one, although we usually wait until the crowd is much smaller – but today we were so frozen we could not stay longer! It took us 40 minutes to pass.