Qalandiya - Confusion about Ramadan rules

Virginia Syvan, Ina Friedman (reporting)

When we arrived at 5:30 there were relatively short lines (meaning that they extended no further than the edge of the sidewalk at the entrance to the shack), and all five checking stations were open. The situation more or less remained this way throughout our incident-free shift. At 6:30 the lines were already contained within the shack. Nevertheless, at 6:15 a security guard arrived with the key to the Humanitarian Gate. But despite the crowd already gathered in front of it, he waited for the DCO soldier, who arrived at 6:23, opened the gate, and operated it properly until the end of the shift.

We noted that the special Ramadan rules for entering Israel were not properly understood by many Palestinians (or were not made sufficiently clear to them). Consequently all the benches (which continue to disappear, one after another) were filled with people who had no permits (meaning women of all ages and men over the age of 40, who are allowed to enter Israeli without them during Ramadan) but had not heard that they could not do so before 8:00 a.m. One man, accompanied by four children, arrived before 6:00 and continuously stood with them near the Humanitarian Gate although we signaled to them that it was possible to sit while they were waiting and afterward asked one of the security guards to explain this to them in Arabic (which he did, to no effect). It’s very sad to see people spending so much time, first thing in the morning, in this ugly, foul-smelling place – and during a holiday, and while fasting, to boot.

We entered one of the half-empty cages at 6:50 and passed through the security check in 15 minutes.