Qalandiya is very crowded this morning.
We arrived slightly after 5 AM. The public transport lane at the vehicle checkpoint was empty, but there’s already a line in the one lane open for regular traffic. Three inspection booths are open at the pedestrian crossing; people go through reasonably quickly. The lines weren’t too long when we arrived but as time passed no additional booths opened, more and more people kept coming, and the lines grew longer.
A policewoman, a soldier and a security guard arrived at 05:40 but no additional booths opened; the lines already extended into the parking lot. The benches also filled with people waiting. A few women came to the humanitarian gate. The guard told them it would open only at 06:00. They decided to wait. Other women who arrived went to the entrance to the cages; the men allowed them to go in. We asked the guard why the other booths don’t open. He said the soldiers arrived late; they’ll open them right away. Only at 05:55 did the two remaining booths finally open; the lines already stretched far into the parking lot.
The humanitarian crossing opened slightly past 06:00; many were already waiting to go through because the regular line was very long. The DCL noncom inspects the documents of men waiting at the humanitarian crossing. Women, old people, children and youths go through without inspection at this stage. Two young men weren’t allowed to cross. One had a foreign passport. It was given to a policewoman who made a phone call, returned it to him and allowed him to cross next time. The other returned to the regular line. Later a young Japanese couple arrived. They were allowed through the humanitarian gate without having their documents inspected (they’ll be checked later at the booth). It’s exam time; we saw some students waiting on line at the humanitarian gate, holding notebooks, using the wait to review the material once more.
Occasionally, when the revolving gates took longer to open again, those on line began calling out to the soldiers and police officers, but in general the line remained orderly. At 06:30 the lines no longer extended past the canopied area, and at 06:40, after additional revolving gates were opened, the lines didn’t extend past the cages and the benches had also emptied. We left.
The approach to the vehicle checkpoint is congested, as usual. People drive the wrong way at the roundabout to gain a few minutes on line. As usual, people with permits to cross at the vehicle crossing seek rides from the cars going through. This time I was also approached, by a young woman dressed traditionally, wearing a hijab. She crossed with me. When I opened the window, youths in the adjacent car wondered whether I’d taken the wrong turn. I told them I’d come purposely to observe what went on at the checkpoint. Before we’d arrived at the checkpoint itself I’d talked to H. who told me she came from Kafr ‘Akab and works as a secretary in an East Jerusalem school. We crossed without any problem. The soldier looked at our blue ID cards and returned them without any questions. He even wished us a nice day.