Qalandiya - A continuous malfunction in one of the turnstiles leaves only two entrances, long lines and people complaining
05.15. Dark and cold. Five checking stations were open most of the time, but the queues reached well beyond the shed. However, speed seemed reasonable. The beigel seller sat outside.
The turnstile furthest from the soldier's cubicle is still blocked, and so there are only 2 lines – which are long, as a result People complain that it is already more than a week that the turnstile has been out of order.
After 6 a.m. a crowd begins to gather at the humanitarian gate. Outside we heard a persistent siren, so we went outside to look. At first we did not notice anything unusual. Afterwards we saw an ambulance rushing from the direction of Ramallah towards A-Ram. Beyond the square that leads to Qalandiya, it was free of the traffic jam and could proceed without a siren.
On the way back we bought tea at the kiosk. The beigel seller by now regretted sitting outside as it was cold.. (He had decided in the morning to do so, so as to avoid the crush and chaos inside). The humanitarian gate opened late, as usual, but things seemed calm there.
7.25. The lines were short, and we joined one. After getting through the cages one has to choose a likely-looking checking station. We chose no.4, only to find that it had suddenly closed. The guard whom we asked about this said they had made a 'toilet stop.' Judging by the length of their break, it must have included also coffee and a cigarette… Meanwhile we moved to another line – and then, of course, checking station no.4 re-opened. (This is the sort of gamble one must always take. So often we see people wandering from one checking station, trying to work out which will be the quickest.)
After us came a woman whose face was completely veiled. At the checking station she very briefly lifted the face covering. Today there were only women soldiers there, and we wondered what happens when there are males. Her problem was that her two daughters – festively dressed little girls in identical attire – were left behind in the turnstile. The soldiers understood this and they made it possible for the little ones to pass. After this, the last turnstile was opened and we all exited. The passage took half an hour.