Virginia S. and Ina F. (reporting)

Another morning of anger and despair

Once again we note that the Qalandiya checkpoint is not built or equipped to handle the number of people who pass through it on a standard weekday morning on their way to work, school, hospitals, etc. Therefore traversing it, whether on foot or by vehicle, becomes a daily punishment.

When we arrived at the checkpoint at 5:30 a.m., four of the five checking stations were open and the pace of progress was accordingly slow. By 6:00 the lines reached deep into the parking lot even though the fifth checking station opened at 5:40. At approximately the same time, when we were about to follow the progress of a man at the end of one of the lines to see how long it would take him to enter a checking station, the three lines dissolved and the shed was filled with a crowd of exasperated and angry men divided into two camps: those who took out their frustration on one another by pushing and shouting at the entrance to the three “cages,” and those who distanced themselves from the melee (mostly older or  wiser men) for fear of being physically harmed. This situation continued until about 6:30, when something resembling lines began to form again. 

The Humanitarian Gate was opened at 6:30, after we had twice called the DCO, by the Civil Administration soldier who is known for her propensity to turn up late and close the gate early. By that point, due to the brutal pushing and shouting at the entrance to the “cages,” no few men who are not entitled to pass through the Humanitarian Gate had gathered on line in front of it in the hope of somehow getting through. The soldier tried to separate them from the women and older men who are eligible to use the gate, not always successfully. She continued to open the gate at intervals until about 7:30, when she left although the lines through the cages still extended beyond the shed.

At 7:35 we also joined one of the lines, which still reached the curb of the parking lot, slowly moved through the cage and the checking station, and left the checkpoint at 8:10, meaning 35 minutes after we joined the line – and this was already after the “peak,” as the soldiers call the morning “rush hour” at the checkpoints.