Qalandiya - Building seems to have started!
05.15. Still dark and cold, but there are already a number of people on the Israeli side. We notice that on the Israeli side beyond the area that was recently fenced off with 4 openings marked in the wall, there is now a stone wall.
Inside the shed there are short lines and 5 checking stations are open. The kiosk has moved across to stand squeezed right against the shed wall. There is now a white metal bordered passage for pedestrians, leading from the road, through the (now unused) parking lot to the shed. The cake seller, however, is in his usual place, as is the beigel seller inside the shed.
When we arrived we noticed that someone had tripped and fallen. Friends helped him up. When we went out later we saw the cause. As the passage was formed through the old parking lot there are still the old strips that marked off the rows of the parking lot. These are hard to notice in the dark.
A television team arrived – a reporter and photographer. They photographed the lines, with the reporter making her live report. She was surprised to hear from us that this was ‘a good day!’ i.e., the lines were relatively short and advanced relatively quickly. We learned they were from Al Jazeera.
Shortly after 6, a replacement came for the soldier in the aquarium, but still no D.C.O. officer or policeman. Meanwhile a line was forming at the Humanitarian Gate. At about 6.15 a and D.C.O officer arrived and started making preparations to open the gate, but disappeared. Then a guard arrived, the officer returned, and they began to open the gate.
We went outside – Beyond the new white metal passage, the parking lot wasstill desolate, no sign of building
At the far end, the old traffic circle is an island of debris, presumably preparatory to new building. Traffic no longer goes around the circle. Traffic coming from Qalandiya use the right lane as in the past. Those coming from al-Ram, instead of going around, drive on what was the left of the circle, on their way to the checkpoint.
On our return to the shed we found there were both a policewoman and an additional guard. As in last week, we saw the Arabic-speaking D.C.O. officer chatting with people waiting in the sleeve. He left the guard to deal with the Humanitarian Gate.
On the left side of the picture is the entrance to the cages, on the right the lines continue out of the shed. Near the edge of the picture on the right is the bagel vendor, standing with his back to the camera. On the left side of the picture you can see red bars, the remains of benches that were once there. The cartons on the front of the picture are used by people who pray
At 7.25 the lines were short and we joined one. It took us 25 minutes to pass through. While waiting in line at the checking station, we noticed that the gate was closed and the D.C.O. officer was leaving.
The machine in the checking station was out of order and the soldiers seemed to manage without it!
The woman soldier was amazed to see us. “Are you Jews? What are you doing here?” They hadn’t heard of Machsomwatch, but let us through without undue delay.