Natanya Ginsburg, Chana Stein (reporting)

A very slow morning at Qalandiya.

05.20. When we arrived there were three lines extending all the way to the end of the car park. Yet there were few people at the five open checking stations. We noticed that the soldier was not opening all three turnstiles. Whether as a result of our phonecall or coincidentally, he soon began opening all three, and at reasonable intervals. Yet the lines didn’t seem to get any shorter. At one stage they looked about to collapse as people got frustrated, but miraculously didn’t.

We were about to phone about the humanitarian gate as quite a number of people were waiting there, when towards 6.15 two D.C.O. officers arrived. They seemed to relate politely to the people, but were very strict.  One young couple who came with an obviously ill child was obliged to wait till 8 o’clock – the wife had a visa but the husband had no permit.

There were quite a few older folk – some on their way to prayers in Al Aksa – waiting to enter at 8 o’clock.

The policewoman arrived, with four(!) security guards.  We were surprised to see some drinking and smoking among them – usually during Ramadan they show more restraint.

07.40. The lines now were well within the shed and so we joined one.  It took 30 minutesin the cage to reach the queue at the checking station itself; then another 30 minutes to pass through. Everyone was getting very impatient at this long wait at the station.  The soldier seemed to be questioning each person – and sometimes with misunderstandings because of language. (Natanya acted as interpreter to help two schoolboys negotiate their way through!)

In all it took an hour to go through – and this was long after the peak. For those who had been in that long line early in the morning it must have been so much slower.  What a way to start a day’s work on a summer Ramadan!