Qalandiya - Once again long lines

Chana Stein (translating), Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting and pictures)
שוב תורים ארוכים
פחים חדשים במחסום קלנדיה.
כלניות פורחות בשדה ירוק

A crowded morning at Qalandiya.

06.15. The sun was already rising. On the pedestrian bridge, there was a steady stream.  On our way to the bridge, we have already noticed the relative cleanliness on the Jerusalem side.  Apparently, there has been a clean-up campaign.

When we reached the Palestinian side, we found quite long queues waiting to enter the checkpoint. Indeed, they did advance, but we wondered what had caused them in the first place. It seems that there were not enough stations for checking bags in action.

We met Abu Ramzi, the beigel seller, who now stands at the entrance facing Al-Ram, as the entrance facing Qalandiya refugee camp is closed. He brings less merchandise than before (too heavy to push?). He says that he arrives at 4.30 and there are already some people passing, and then he stays until he has sold everything. The tea kiosk has now moved to a commercial vehicle in the upper parking lot – but did not seem to be active.  We did not go to check – or to buy tea…

We returned to the checkpoint building. The lines were slowly advancing. Only at 7.15, when there was no longer a line extending out of the entrance, we entered one of the entrances (the right-hand, western). We waited a short while in the passage (the 'slalom'), When the turnstile opened we reached the hall – which we found crowded. The closed partitions between the different sections of the hall did not allow us to see what the conditions were elsewhere. In a gallery above the halls stood a soldier watching what was happening. We could not understand why more and more people were being allowed into the hall when the lines waiting for checking were making no progress. Meanwhile, the hall got fuller and fuller, a most unwelcome situation in Corona times. On a day without rain or wind, it would be preferable to let people queue outside.

Suddenly the checking was resumed and the line moved quickly. We saw, too, that the partitions had been removed so people could move across to other checking stations where, apparently, there was less pressure.

After baggage check, we advanced to the station for document checking. There were two such stations open, each with quite a long queue. Among those waiting were children and youths from the areas annexed to Jerusalem but outside the partition wall. They do not yet have identity cards, but carry laminated birth certificates to present at the checkpoint – a checkpoint on their way to school…

There were 5-6 electronic stations open out ot the 30, and these were all at the western end of the hall, so anyone who had checked baggage at the eastern checking stations had to pass through the queues waiting at the manual check to reach them.  A touch of Chelem….

The soldier checking our documents did not know how to deal with the Hebrew names but our Machsomwatch tags convinced him, and he let us through without delay.  It took us 20 minutes altogether to pass.

Outside, as we said, it was relatively clean, and there are new attractive rubbish bins. The sidewalk near the parking was perfectly clean,  and even next to the low concrete wall where people often sit, it seems that all the litter has been cleared. There were only a few today's coffee cups strewn on the ground.

On the way back to our car, the sun was shining on the empty field next to the road, all fresh green and. radiant with anemones. We drew closer to photograph them, but the pictures can only hint at the wonderful flowery carpet.