A crowded day at Qalandiya
05.15. Now that the vacation period is over, we parked again on the Israeli side. Next to the parking lot is a café with many tables inside and out, already crowded at this early hour – a sign that so far passage through the checkpoint is still quick. And indeed we found all five checkpoints open, as was the turnstile nearest the aquarium. The soldier soon opened the other two turnstiles, so everyone could enter immediately although fairly long lines then formed at the checking stations themselves. Only at about 6 a.m., as soldiers changed duty, did they begin to close the turnstiles, reducing the lines at the checking stations. This in turn caused the lines in the shed to stretch right out of the shed.
Towards 6 a.m. people started to gather at the Humanitarian gate. Soon afterwards the D.C.O. officer arrived with a policeman, followed by two guards. The officer opened the gate for those ‘entitled’ to pass, every time a group formed, sending the others to the regular queues.
The lines were long, but advanced at a ‘reasonable’ rate. We met two young men from “Blue-White Human Rights”, whom we haven’t seen for a long time at Qalandiya. One of them told us that they now go more frequently to Bethlehem. The kiosk didn’t open today, and the beigel-seller did not know why.
At 6.30 the lines became shorter and were within the shed. At 6.45, when the lines were all within the wire passages, we joined a line. People there told us that all the week had been hard. Today was crowded, but relatively reasonable. While we were waiting we saw that the D.C.O. officer left, as there was no longer need to open the humanitarian gate. We passed in less than 15 minutes.
Next week will be Eid al-Adha, so we will not be going to Qalandiya.