Qalandiya - road-building work continues

Chana Stein (translating), Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting and pictures)

As reported last week, we decided to start coming later, as the Palestinians come later than in the past. We arrived at 6.15. On the way we saw notices pointing to “Atarot Mall.” Outside it was like mid-day, at peak hour. We did not even try the free parking lot and made straight for the new paid-parking one (20 shekels). The man operating it, an elderly Palestinian, has already become our friend. Today, as expected, the talk is about the elections, and that there this nothing new under the sun …

Int eh square in front of the checkpoint there are road-building works, and one has to take great care crossing the road, particularly in the dark.  On our way back later, when there was full light, we photographed…

Many people were outside on the Israel side, and a steady stream exited the checkpoint. Many greeted us, hurrying on to work. The approach to the Palestinian side is blocked by a white metal wall – there, too, there are works in progress.  People coming out show us how to pass this – and instructions are also written on the meal wall.

We passed to the Palestinian side. Our friend the beigel-seller was standing on the pavement outside the shed. Meanwhile, he is allowed to be there. The falafel kiosk is gone. Entry to the checkpoint is flowing, but it turns out that only the rightmost entrance is open. We stood close to the other two, telling people not to use them. Then we noticed that there are now lights above the entrances, green or red, indicating which are open.

On one of the walls is a notice from yesterday, reporting the location of the polling booth. Apparently, it was possible to vote here.

Later we learned that the lights do not always show correctly the status of entry – sometimes all three were red when some entrances were open, or a closed entry showed a green light. At one point all entries were closed and queues formed. People were confused, not knowing to which entrance to turn. Luckily, this lasted only a short while, the entrances were mostly open, and the lines vanished.

The toilet building, whose entrance is from the old shed, is still locked although there is a light on inside… In the area of the new checkpoint there are still no trash-bins, and people improvise – throwing rubbish in a bucket, or in sacks against the pillars. There is also litter on the ground – a pity.

We went to the tea kiosk. The area behind it is today clear of cars. Iman explains that parking is now not allowed because of preparations for Ramadan, when entrance will from there on Fridays. We went to the road to see the concrete barriers that had been erected to separate the traffic lanes. This is good for the cars, but less so for pedestrians who have to cross the road to reach the checkpoint. Young folk jump over the barrier, endangering themselves. Women and elderly folk take a roundabout way.

We noticed that at one point blocks had been used to create steps over the barrier.

We returned to the checkpoint. By now all the entrances were open and passage was swift. At 7 o’clock we left and were through in a few minutes.