Qalandiya – a quiet day without incidents

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Chana Stein (translating), Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting)

A chilly and calm morning in Qalandiya. We continue to park on the Palestinian side because due to the works on the Israeli side there is no place to park there. We arrived around a quarter to six. A cloudy and overcast day, clouds cover the sky and you don't see the breaking dawn. It is evident that shortly before we arrived it had rained. The smell of smoke is in the air, but you can't see where it's coming from.

We went towards the checkpoint compound. Our friend Abu Ramzi, the pretzel seller, is not in his usual place. The falafel and other food stand are up and running as usual, with their operators dressed in nylon jackets against the rain. We wondered if because of the rain Abu Ramzi did not come this morning, but when we approached the checkpoint we found him and the cake seller standing under the shed. The rain drove them there earlier, and luckily no one came to banish them. Shortly after we arrived, Abu Ramzi finished selling the goods he had brought and left.

During our entire stay, there were no queues. The three entrances were open all the time and the people who arrived entered immediately without delays. Let's hope this is a sign of things to come. At one point, a woman arrived with a toddler in a stroller. She went to the stand next to the gate that could be opened to the passage without turnstiles and rang her phone. People approached her to offer help, but she said everything was fine. And really, within a few minutes, a security guard or a policeman came and opened the gate for her. We wondered if there was now an answer to the general number, or maybe she had the personal number of that policeman/security guard. She seemed to know that she would be helped to enter, and indeed she was.

The flow of people continued as usual both from the entrance to the checkpoint complex from the east and of young people climbing the fence from the direction of Qalandiya. Everyone entered immediately. Since it was like this during our entire stay, we left after about an hour, at a quarter to seven. This time I did not cross over to the Israeli side of the checkpoint, because it really seemed that no one was delayed in crossing.

When we got back to the car it was already light and the sun began to shine through the clouds. We asked the parking operator about the burnt smell from the direction of A-Ram. He did not know what the exact source of this was, but he reassured us that it was not due to demonstrations or military activity. According to him, A-Ram is quiet. "Probably just burning trash". We drove through A-Ram towards the Jabba-Geva Binyamin intersection (Adam). Before the junction, the Jabba temporary checkpoint was manned but the crossing was quite fast. After the checkpoint we reached the intersection and turned to return to Jerusalem via Hizmeh. The traffic situation up to the Hizmeh checkpoint was reasonable, but the usual morning traffic jams started from Pisgat Zeev.