End of the Bearable Days at Qalandia
The lines already reached into the parking lot when we arrived at 5:30 a.m. All five checking stations were open but the pace of progress was achingly slow, even though the lines to enter the checking stations were short. The soldier responsible for opening the turnstiles at the end of the three “cages” was stingy, both regarding the amount of time between opening the turnstiles and the number of people allowed through each time. His replacement, who took over at 6:00, was more generous – and also benefited from the arrival of the soldier in charge of the Humanitarian Gate, who arrived shortly after he did and provided some guidance. But by that time the damage had already been done from the standpoint of the length of the lines, which at 6:00 already extended very deeply into the parking lot.
At 6:25, because a number of people attempted to jump the queue at the entrance to the cage on the left, the line discipline collapsed altogether, and the next half an hour was marked by shouting and pushing at the entrance to all three cages before the lines slowly began to form again.
Welcome to Classic Qalandiya.
The soldier in charge of the Humanitarian Gate opened it each time a number of people gathered before it from 6:10 to 7:53, when she and the security guards left although the lines into the cages still extended to the entrance to the shed.
We joined one of the lines at 7:40 and exited the checking station at 8:10 with the sense of despair so familiar to us.