Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting), Natanya Ginsburg


A very difficult morning at Qalandiya

We arrived at Qalandiya about 5.20. We parked on the Israeli side and went to the checkpoint. Outside was still dark and chilly. On  the side of the road people were lighting small fires and sitting around them so as to warm up until the dawn when their transport would arrive.

We went to the Palestinian side. Even though it was early and all five windows were working there were already long queues in the shed and which overflowed deep into the parking lot. In the aquarium sat a soldier and a policeman.

The rate of progress was rather slow and the situation seemed open to trouble. And truly at 5.40 the queues collapsed. Around the entrance to the cages people piled up. Everyone pushing and shouting and trying somehow to get into the cages. Older people and those who did not want to push and shove immediately went to the back. Women also of course who can not stand in such a queue. The benches were filled with those waiting and next to the humanitarian gate many people waited for  it to be opened.

A little after 6 the captain from the DCO arrived and afterwards two guards and a little after this a woman policeman. The policeman also came out of the aquarium  and helped the captain to classify those waiting next to the gate. To the credit of the captain it  must be said  that after the first pressure on the humanitarian  gate had been eased he often opened the gage even when there were only a few people waiting and did not leave them to wait until the line built up. Together with this he screened with care those who were waiting and many were sent back which of course meant that they had to wait longer. Older people were allowed to pass through without being made to wait until 8.

A little after 7.00 it seemed  that the lines were again forming behind the piles of people at the entrance to the cages. But this did not last for long and again broke down. People told us that all last week this had been the same. The kiosk did not open today and it is not sure  why.  The bagel seller said he had phoned several times to find out why but there had been no answer. Only at about 8.00 were there again orderly line but they were very long. The captain left and the humanitarian gate did not open again, not  even when elderly people arrived and a woman with a babyinfo-icon. Only after 8.30 the lines shortened and we joined the queue. We passed within 20  minutes without any special delays.