Qalandiya

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Place: 
Observers: 
Chana Stein (translating), Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting and pictures)
Sep-28-2022
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Morning

A new year and another morning shift 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. Dawn was just beginning to break, and we saw smoke billowing from the A-Ram area. This continued even when we reached the checkpoint area.

On the way to the checkpoint complex, we stopped at our friend Abu Ramzi, the bagel seller, who is standing near the entrance. A few months ago he was widowed by his wife.

At around 6 o'clock we arrived at the checkpoint itself and saw that there were lines that were getting longer and longer. Even when some of the entrances were opened, the western entrance remained closed and the people waiting in line there started shouting for them to be opened as well. We have already come to know that there is a stage, around 6 o'clock, when more and more people arrive, while inside apparently not all the positions have been staffed yet. It was the same this time. The queues got longer and longer in both directions, both from the ramp on the east side and from the stairs. At 6:20 there was literally a human snake from both directions.

Around 6:15 a woman arrived in a wheelchair accompanied by a young man, apparently her son. We approached them and the son said that he had already asked someone to announce their arrival so that someone would come to help them. When we saw that time was passing and nothing was happening, we tried to call the number to open the gatesinfo-icon for them that allow entry without turnstiles. It appears on the official blue sign, but it seemed that the number was disconnected. This is a number intended for emergencies, so what does someone who arrives at the checkpoint with an emergency do - where should they go? Later on, at a moment when we were talking to someone and turned our gaze, apparently, they finally came to open. When we looked again, the woman and her son were no longer there, but it had taken about half an hour since they arrived!!

At about 6:25 all the waiting people were brought into the building at once. The shed was emptied, but it was clear that there was a lot of pressure inside now. Later, queues began to form outside again and only relatively late, around 7:15, there were no longer queues.

The dawn was glowing - and smoke was still rising in the direction of A-Ram. In the meantime, we met two volunteers from EAPPI, the organization of the churches, outside. They were a woman from Austria and a man from Colombia. We had already heard that they have returned to activity in the territories, after a long period of absence due to the coronavirus, but this is the first time we have met them. The woman was at a meeting of the organization's volunteers with our friend Hana Barag, so she immediately knew who we were. They went to stand at the place where people who were refused entry returned, to hear why from them. We gave them the details of Sylvia's team, which they could give to those who found out that they were prevented.

Only at 7:15, as mentioned, there were already no queues. I entered the middle entrance to the slalom. For some reason it actually remained closed when the other two were opened, so the people waiting there went one by one to the other entrances. In the end, they opened here too. Inside the building, 5 out of 6 checkpoints were open. The lines were short and moved quickly. There was a bit of a queue at the manual document checking stations, but then the security guard drew our attention to the fact that another station had opened and this sped up the transition. In total, the crossing took about fifteen minutes from end to end. I went up on the pedestrian bridge to photograph the progressing works on the settlement from above and returned to the Palestinian side.

We returned to the car and drove through A-Ram towards the Jaba intersection - Geva Binyamin (Adam). In the A-Ram area, only a little smoke on the side of the road. Is that the thick smoke we saw earlier? And what was its origin? It is not clear. Before the intersection, the Jabba temporary checkpoint was manned and a large line of cars stretched. After the checkpoint, we reached the intersection and turned to return to Jerusalem through Hizmeh. The traffic situation up to the Hizmeh checkpoint was reasonable, but the usual morning traffic jams started from Pisgat Zeev.