We arrived at Qalandiya at 5.15 not quite knowing what to expect, but the situation was the same as on other mornings with no signs of violence. We went inside the coffee shop where we were received with indifference but a few people greeted us and spoke to Bruce and were happy to be photographed.
When we entered the checkpoint the area before the windows was completely full and the soldier was opening the turnstile often and allowing a flow of people to go through.
The baigel seller said that he could not give us any information as he leaves in the early morning and at home is in bed by 6.30. Not surprising with the heavy cart he has to push each morning and he, not a young man and with bad eyesight.
The shed was full and the line outside half way to the road. We went outside where everything was also as usual. Bruce photographing.
There are no signs of building either where the parking lot used to be or at the roundabout. One wonders why they bothered to destroy everything if there is no intention of doing anything about it. Maybe just to add to the general feeling of chaos, dirt, maybe just to show Palestinians in what contempt they are held by the authorities.
Although this is the second time that Bruce has been there he is still shocked and upset at what he sees. As we have said before it is good that we, who have had so many years to become accustomed although never indifferent to what we see, to see through the eyes of a visitor.
There was another photographer present. When Bruce asked where he was from he replied that he was just filming for himself. But when I asked him he looked at me with dislike and said “Imtirtzu.” I did not bother to return his look.
At one stage when the turnstiles were not opened as often as before the lines collapsed. It shows how important it is that the turnstiles be opened often enough to give the people in the lines the feeling that they are moving. Once inside there is little of the tension one feels in the shed. But as a result of this there was a rather funny episode. Bruce was trying to get on to the water cement stand so as to photograph the pushing and panic at the entrance to the cages and could not do so. Suddenly a burly Palestinian picked him up bodily as one would a child and put him up there. It gave all of us present one of the few laughs at Qalandiya. And if gave Bruce a good vantage point.
Through the bars of the cage, the look of a man who has probably got up at 3 or 4 am to get to the checkpoint, in the cold, knowing the wait he has ahead of him, hoping he will get through in time so that his employer does not fire him for coming late, standing and standing, shuffling alone until he gets to the window. The soldier who looks at him with the indifference of a person sitting in a warm room on a comfortable chair with his coffee next to them and then casually waves him on. And even for that he is grateful in that he is not suddenly informed that his permit has been revoked. Then into Israel where he may well be stopped again. To work and then home at the end of a day and who knows how much time or strength he will have to enjoy his family before the miserable routine sets in again.
The humanitarian gate was closed and even though this was at 8 a.m. already I phoned the DCO and told them that there were many women and children and a very bad situation. The soldier inside said he himself could not open the gate and check but I saw that he was also phoning and this time within 5 minutes two soldiers arrived, the gate was opened and the situation improved so that we were able to leave by 8.30.