Qalandiya, Tue 5.3.13, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
Even though the checkpoint had operated in an organized, efficient and convenient manner during the past few weeks, today everything was back to normal. This morning was the worst we’ve seen in a long time. The revolving gates hadn’t yet opened when we arrived before 06:00. Hundreds of people jammed the entrances to the three revolving gates; they began shouting, even climbing the gates. The humanitarian gate, which should have opened at 06:00, didn’t open until 06:20. Dozens of people had come early, hoping it would open on time. They all had permits for hospital appointments or medical treatment at locations past the checkpoint. I called the DCO twice to find out what the problem was, and each time the soldier who answered told me to call back in ten minutes. The police officer, the soldier and the security guard in charge of the humanitarian gate didn’t show up until 06:20, and it finally opened. The revolving gates also opened, but only about four people made it to the lines at each of the five inspection booths. Hundreds of people were still outside; the biting cold and the rain only made it worse for everyone.
We heard from the ecumenical representative and the staff that the situation at Qalandiya has been unbearable since Sunday. We asked the police officer in charge why, in contrast to recent weeks, things suddenly changed and the checkpoint no longer operated smoothly. His reply: “Situations change…” (??!!). There was still a line to the revolving gates at 07:30, but it was shorter. Qalandiya’s reputation as one of the worst checkpoints is, in fact, justified. People don’t know from one day to the next or one week to the next what to expect when they arrive at the entrance. They can’t plan their day, their routine. It’s all random.