Qalandiya - The Ramadan effect?
The checkpoint was all but empty when we arrived at 5:30. All five checking stations were open and all newcomers moved directly through the open turnstile at the end of one of the cages. The situation remained thus throughout the morning. At 6:10 a DCO officer arrived with a number of security guards but did not open the Humanitarian Gate as there was no need to do so. He remained until 6:45.
At one point we were approached by two men, one with a camera. They introduced themselves as coming from Istanbul and had wanted to take photos of the situation at the checkpoint, asking us why it was essentially empty today. They further told us that some elderly gentlemen, waiting to enter without a permit at 8 o’clock (although there were no lines at the checkpoint), ascribed the free moment through the cages to our presence! Blessed be the believer: If only we could take credit for a checkpoint operating smoothly.
At 6:45 we went through the security check in about ten minutes because there was a minor problem with the x-ray machine. A security guard came into the sleeve because he saw a woman there with an infant and a stroller and opened the gate there, allowing her and the women accompanying her, to avoid the turnstile. The last of those women, however, who was going through without a permit by virtue of being over 50, was turned back not because she had come too early (that is, before 8 a.m.) but because she was blacklisted. She seemed thoroughly nonplussed about being so defined but, for lack of choice, immediately came back through the still-open gate. Lord only knows what a woman of her age had done to deserve that classification. She apparently didn’t.