Qalandiya - Dreary but efficient

Natanya Ginsburg, Chana Stein (reporting)

Dreary – but efficient.

05.15.  As usual lately, when we arrived, 4 out of the 5 checking stations were open, the 5th opening at 6.10.  The three lines extended about two-thirds of the way towards the road – as we were told by a man who came out of the line, near the cages, to speak to us.  He had arrived half-an-hour earlier.

The shed was gloomy and also, as usual, underlit – such a dreary introduction to daily work

A group of six men were praying, with a prayer leader.  Later, individuals would pray. All used discarded cartons as improvised prayer mats.

The saving grace today was the attentive and efficient soldier in the aquarium, who frequently opened the turnstiles, letting in many people through each time. No doubt he played his share in causing the  calm atmosphere. He kept checking the situation and, in fact, motioned to us to join the line as other women did, not realizing that we were “official” observers, not needing to pass.

The humanitarian gate opened (just after we had phoned  -so it was coincidence, not thanks to our nagging) at 6.20, when the D.C.O. officer arrived together with a policeman and guard. (Fortunately people needing the gate had themselves arrived late.) Altogether there were few people needing the humanitarian gate – apart from a family with a very young child, but they had arrived way too early for it, anyway, and they fitted themselves into a queue at the cage entrance.

By 6.50 the lines were very short, within the shed.  We joined one soon after 7, and were out in 20 minutes.