Qalandiya - Even the security guards were in a good mood this morning.

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Virginia Syvan, Ina Friedman (reporting)

An easy, fluid, complimentary morning

We reached the southern parking lot just before 6 a.m. and it took us about another quarter of an hour to reach the entrance to the checkpoint, due to the Via Dolorosa of the new bridge. Once again we noted that the gate enabling people to enter the checkpoint compound from the north (that is, from Kafr Aqeb) was closed. Thus all those approaching from the north had to walk to the eastern entrance (in the direction of A-Ram), adding about ten more minutes to their morning walk. We have not received any explanation for this rather aggravating change, from either the army or Palestinians who come through the checkpoint and would be happy to receive one lest our cynicism is aroused.

The flow of newcomers into the pedestrian checkpoint was smooth and constant throughout the shift, much as in the opening days of the new buildings with all its technological improvements. Only one person approached us, and that was just for a chat about nothing special, not because he needed our help with any problem. He did note, however, that the welcome improvements of the pedestrian checkpoint did nothing to relieve the frustration of those stuck every morning in the traffic jam caused by the vehicle checkpoint. Unfortunately, we had no good news to report on this front for the foreseeable future or at all. Before leaving us, the man insisted that we take a sweet that he had in his pocket as a gesture of his appreciation for our presence at the checkpoint and invited us to visit him at his home in A-Ram. A few minutes later, after we ascended the steps to the open "porch" of the new building, one of the young men passing by called out to us, "Good morning, angels!" When things go smoothly, it's easy to acquire compliments at this checkpoint!

Just after 7:00, when the flow of newcomers had declined to a trickle, we too passed through the security check quickly and easily. Before leaving the hall, however, we stopped to count the number of machines that automatically check biometric permits just to know the exact number (27, as we could see marked on the last of these machines without counting). Meanwhile, however, we had attracted the attention of the security guard, who called out to and approached us to ask what we were doing. When we held up our MachsomWatch tags before him and he read out the words "NO to Checkpoints," he smiled and asked: "Then where will we work?" We returned his smile and continued on our way. Even the security guards were in a good mood this morning.