Qalandiya - relatively short lines

Chana Stein, Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting and pictures)

A reasonable day at Qalandiya.

05.15.  Outside dark and cold. Five checking stations were open and the state of the queues was reasonable.

The soldier in the aquarium was sitting with legs up on the table and his eyes glued to his smartphone. Yet we noticed that he did pay attention, and allowed many people in at each opening of the turnstiles. At 5.50 the lines were relatively short (see picture), and did not extend out of the shed.

Relatively short lines
Relatively short lines
Ronit Dahan-Ramati

Because of this, women and older folk waited patiently in the regular lines instead of gathering at the humanitarian gate. At about 6 a.m. a policeman arrived and did not react to the small number of people who were at the gate. We hoped his arrival meant that the gate would soon open. Meanwhile the lines lengthened and shortened alternately, but there was never much pressure. 

When the humanitarian gate was opened by the D.C.O. woman soldier and a guard late, as usual, at 6.30, they went to open the inner gate together with the policeman. Immediately women and other ‘entitled ones’ left the regular lines for the humanitarian gate. Once again the personnel forgot to open the passage from the gate to the checking stations, but after people drew their attention to this, a guard came to open it, while the soldier and policeman continued admitting people. In a corner opposite station no.5 stood an abandoned child stroller. Presumably someone despaired of getting through the turnstiles on the way to the check itself…

We went out to buy hot tea. Loud hooting of cars drew our attention and we went to the road. A few cars were standing without their drivers, and a crowd of people. Apparently a light accident had led to a conflict which became physical, between the drivers. We immediately heard a siren from the watchtower and saw a policeman and guard approaching. After they came, things calmed down. The drivers returned to their cars. At exactly that moment we noticed Mohammad, the patient from the Jordan Valley, coming from the direction of the road. He was not allowed today to pass in a vehicle and it turned out that he had no transport to Hadassah.

It was already 6.45, and the situation seemed very calm today. So we passed with Mohammad through the humanitarian gate, to checking station no.5. Standing there we saw a notice giving opening hours of the Post Office – Sunday to Thursday, from 8.00 to 15.00, and on Friday 8.00 to 12.00. Above it was a notice that we photographed last week, about hours of passage through the various stations to the area where the Post Office is situated.

Passage was delayed when a smartly dressed old man, resting on a cane, pushed forward in the line. Everyone honoured him and allowed him to pass. Every time he passed the turnstile it whistled, and he had to have explained to him that he must remove his coat and cane and pass them through the screening machine. When he finally crossed without whistling, it turned out that he did not have a permit and the soldier told him he would have to return at 8. The man tried to argue and meanwhile everyone in the line began to lose patience and shouted to him to return. All this created further delay, so that in the end passing took us 30 minutes to reach the car with Mohammad. The trip to Hadassah was relatively quick for a busy morning, and we could deliver him at Hadassah before 8 o’clock.