Ronit Dahan-Ramati, (reporting) Natanya Ginsburg (translating)

A crowded day at Qalandiya

We arrived at Qalandiya  at 5.20. We parked on the Israeli side and walked to the Palestinian side.  On the Israeli side there were already many people waiting for their transport.


The dawn had not broken yet. At the entrance to the checkpoint a large group of people were engrossed in their prayers and we passed carefully so as not to disturb them.


5 checking areas were open. The kiosk was also open ant the baigel seller was already having his cup of tea. The lines were very long and soon flowed into the parking area. It seemed that the checking was fast and efficient. The woman soldier in the aquarium  opened the turnstiles  often and let large numbers of people through. The one time when she did delay one of the people in the line called  to her in Hebrew and asked her to let more people through as the lines were long. Usually the soldiers in the aquarium ignore such calls but she responded to the request. After a moment she opened the tuirnstiles and allowed many people through to the area in front of the windows. 

A little before six the shifts changed as did the soldiers in the aquarium. But the representative of the DCO was nowhere to be seen. At 6.15 we phoned to ask why this was and why the humanitarian gatesinfo-icon had not been opened and received a promise to deal with the matter. At 6.20 two security guards arrived and behind them the captain, a police  man and woman. The captain greeted us and made a survey around the aquarium to check the lines in the cages and in front of the windows. Then he became engaged in a telephone call. The woman soldier and one of the security guards approached the humanitarian gate. First they checked all the permits and send back those who were not eligible.  At 6.25 the humanitarian gate opened for the first time. In the meantime the ordinary lines began to shorten.

At 6.35 the only lines were in the shed itself. The captain spoke to us and asked how the morning had been. We said  that it seemed that the checking that day had been efficient and so even though there had been long lines the progress had been reasonable and order had been maintained. We told him that two weeks previously when we had been there  it  had been really terrible. He thanked us and said he would give this his attention.  We will see.