Qalandiya - Rain, Cold, Wind, and a Strike
We were glad to see that all five checking stations were open when we arrived at 5:30 on this cold and stormy morning – which was also the day of a Palestinian general strike in protest to the visit by U.S. Vice President Pence. Apparently as a result of one or all of these factors, the lines were short and did not extend outside the shed throughout the shift. The soldier responsible for opening the turnstiles also did so frequently, so that the forward progress was quite satisfactory.
At 6:05 we called the DCO because a family had arrived with an infant in a stroller on the way to the hospital. We were told that the soldier responsible for the Humanitarian Gate was on his way. When he did not arrived after 10 minutes, the family folded the stroller, carried the baby, and went to stand on one of the lines moving through the cages. But a few minutes later, when the soldier and a security guard arrived to operate the gate, they left the cage and were allowed to go through the Humanitarian Gate. Nevertheless, for some reason, the others entitled to use the gate were not allowed to go through it and were directed to join the lines moving via the cages. The situation was reversed within a few minutes, however, and the DCO soldier decided to open the gate for all those entitled to use it and, thereafter, allowed people to pass through immediately upon arriving.
At 6:35, when the lines were contained within the cages, we joined one of them and passed through the security checking within 15 minutes.