A heavy morning at Qalandiya
05.15. Today, once again, we saw no groups at prayer when we arrived. On the Palestinian side there were long queues.
All 5 checking stations were open and speed of passage was reasonable. It seemed that today we would not see the horrors that had been happening in recent weeks. On the fence was a notice saying that merchants should approach before 8 or in the hours written on their permits. From today they would photographer Lauren joined us again today. By this time he knew the way here.
At about 5.45, for no apparent reason, the lines suddenly collapsed. Luckily, after about 15 minutes they re-formed and continued to stream slowly. The humanitarian gate opened at 6.15. We went outside for tea at the kiosk. The metal border lining the queues’ passage is in very poor state, still unrepaired since the winds.
On the fringe of the carpark we saw remains of strawberries that were apparently discarded at the end of the seller’s working day. Then we saw also remains of cabbage, and boxes of tomatoes waiting till the stall’s opening later in the day. Apparently at present peddlers are not in danger of getting reports.
In the square is a notice saying “we are renewing for you.”
It is a pity only that they destroyed the square such a long time ago (6 months) and the renewal is nowhere to be seen.
Returning inside the shed we saw a notice asking for street cleaners in Tel Aviv. One must hold a Jerusalem document or a permit to work in Israel. (The word “cleaning” is incorrectly spelled.)
We had met our acquaintance H. who chatted with Lauren and answered his questions. He told us that on difficult days he and friends had been going via ha-Zeitim checkpoint. This meant adding another 15 minutes travelling and increased fares. If they could use the short route from their village via Ramot or through nearby Jib checkpoint, they would save both time and money. But at Jib only local residents, listed by name, are allowed to pass.
At about 6.30 the lines again collapsed and this time it took 40 minutes before order was restored. The humanitarian gate stayed open till almost 8. A pity that it did not stay open till 8, allowing all those older people without permits (who may enter only after 8) to use the humanitarian gate, instead of struggling with the regular lines. Meanwhile only the cats enjoy the relative freedom of crawling through the bars. Even they have to retreat and wait for the stream of people to pass …
At about 8.15 we joined the lines which by then were shorter and it took three quarters of an hour to pass. Compared with what we had experienced in recent weeks, today we had only “the usual horror.”