A mysteriously quiet morning at Qalandiya.
05.15. On arrival we were surprised by the quiet atmosphere. Although there was a constant light stream of people arriving, they could all move swiftly through the one turnstile that was left open.
The falafel stall was open. The coffee kiosk was closed - we found that the owner's father had died. As it was so quiet we could chat with the beigel seller, Abu Ramzi. We wondered if the quiet was the result of the recent violence in the village near Ramallah, but he had not even heard of the incident. ("I don't listen to news.") And, indeed, there was no sense of tension among the people we saw going in. They mostly were just relieved to have such an easy morning and greeted us warmly.[Having the chance to chat, we learned that the elderly beigel-seller, who daily pushes his heavy wagon load to and from the checkpoint, does so to support the three small grandchildren he and his wife are bringing up. Their father, his son, died in his early thirties.]
A guard arrived at 5.50. Soon after 6 o'clock a D.C.O. officer arrived. A few people went through the humanitarian gate, but then he left at 6.40 and the gate was locked. Our main task was to explain to the few women who arrived that it was closed.
By the time the soldier in the cubicle was replaced at 6 o'clock, there was enough traffic to justify opening a second turnstile - but this, too, was left open.
The exciting news was that the new extension wing was lit up with electric lights, and there is a large "Welcome to Qalandiya" notice, in addition to one giving opening hours of the various offices. When will the festive opening be?
At 7 o'clock we left and passed quickly through the checking process. We were called back, though. "Girls!" called the more senior woman soldier, flattering us by not saying "Grannies." She wanted to know if we had signed the special permit(?) allowing us to be on the Palestinian side. She must have been new at the job! But she did so very pleasantly . One only needs
such permission, of course, when going into Area A.
Altogether it was a strangely quiet for Sunday which is usually full of workers beginning their working week.