A ’reasonable’ morning at Qalandiya.
05.20. There were relatively few people on the Israel side, for a Ramadan day. People came out of the checkpoint slowly. Once inside we found almost no queues. As tomorrow will be the last fast day, to be followed by Eid el-Fitr, we thought that perhaps people had already started their holiday. Later it turned out that many simply started their day late.
Four checking stations were open. The lines were not long and did not extend out of the shed. At 6 o’clock the humanitarian gate did not open, but at that stage there was no need as everyone could join the regular lines without trouble. After 6, the fifth checking station also opened.
Outside we saw a new roadway is being paved, looking like a driveway around a circle. It seems that in future traffic will come from the direction where there are now the concrete blocks set as entrances for Ramadan, passengers will alight, and then continue. It is not clear if there will be a parking lot. Within the area of the checkpoint, there is building going on, and has grown a second floor …
At about 6.30 we joined one of the lines. But suddenly a crowd arrived and the lines then reached outside the shed, so we decided to wait till they emptied. At 6.35 the D.C.O. officer and a guard arrived and opened the humanitarian gate. Right away, women and other ‘entitled’ ones who had been in the regular lines rushed over to the gate .
By 7 o’clock the lines were once again short, and we joined one. From a distance we saw the D.C.O. soldier and the guard helping someone in a wheelchair through the special gates next to the turnstiles. We did not see if they returned to open the Humantarian gate, but there did not seem to be a need. From what we read in Hanna Barag’s report, we learned that later there were long lines and heavy pressure, because of people making their way to Jerusalem for the end of Ramadan.
In front of us in the line for the checking station was an elderly woman. Everyone kept telling her that she would not be allowed to pass before 8 o’clock, but she persisted. In the end she passed the turnstile together with us, but the soldier in the station told her to go back and wait until 8 …. Us, on the other hand, she received with a friendly “how’re things?” it took 30 minutes to pass.