Coming to the conclusion that it was no longer necessary to go to Qalandiya every week, we decided this time to see conditions at Shuafat refugee camp. We arrived at 6 a.m. and it took quite a while to find parking on the Israeli side, from where we walked to the Palestinian side.
The refugee camp itself is annexed to Jerusalem but remains beyond the separation wall. Therefore the inhabitants, although they hold blue residents’ documents, have to pass the checkpoint on their way to Jerusalem whether by transport or on foot. Today there are also residents who are not considered Jerusalem residents, and there are also residents of Anata who use the checkpoint – they all need permits.
Most school children are already on vacation, so there are very few buses in the parking lot intended for them. Traffic in the square in front of the checkpoint is dense, but gradually advances. Relative to the situation on previous visits a few years ago, one might call it clean. (But if the streets looked like this where we live, we would think it very dirty…)
Inside the camp, there seemed to be still lights left from Ramadan. There was also a poster with Ramadan greetings from Jerusalem municipality.
After waiting a while we went to the pedestrian checkpoint. This was small, but seemed adequate [at this time] for the needs. Two positions were active. One line was for people without packages; the other was open to all. Women seemed all to line up at the latter one, and this was slower. The turnstile allowed only one person to pass at a time (though sometimes a second one squeezed through). We stood in this longer line which soon stretched out of the building. From the other turnstile we suddenly heard shouting, apparently from someone who was being detained by a soldier who asked him to stand aside so that meanwhile other people could pass. People waiting in line began banging loudly on the metal door. Then when they finally let the people through, they asked a man if he was the one banging or, if not he, who was. The man answered “there are cameras. See who banged and let people pass.” In the end, passage resumed.
Meanwhile, our own line moved slowly. When our turn came, they were letting in more than one at a time, presumably to speed up passage. Altogether it took us 15 minutes to pass. At 7 o’clock we were already back in our car. There is definitely room for improvement at this checkpoint….