A slow and very tense morning
July 1st, the morning after the bodies of the three Israeli teens had been found near Halhul and just a day before the murder of the Palestinian boy from Bet Hanina in East Jerusalem and the riots that followed.
When we arrived at 5:10 the lines already stretched far into the parking. Only three check posts were open and the lines moved forward at a frustratingly slow pace (if at all).We made a random check in passage 3 which showed an average of 3 people being let through in 2 minutes. At 5:30, still no additional check posts had been opened and the discipline in the lines collapsed with the result that men started pushing and climbing at the entrances to the enclosures causing much anger and pressure. Not only the women waiting in line but also men of all ages hurried to get away from the tumult, and people kept gathering in the covered area at the checkpoint until about 6:45 when they started lining up again. All morning, people turned to us to complain. Interestingly, however, they expressed no suspicions that the slow pace was some kind of revenge for the terrible outcome of the abduction.
At 5:30, men and women began gathering at the humanitarian gate and, when the tumult began the number of people grew. The DCO officer arrived at 6:10. 5 minutes later, after having checked the men's permits and having sent some of them back to the lines to the enclosures he opened the gate for the first time. He kept on opening the gate each time a small group of people gathered. At 7:10 he directed the people to the very short lines at the enclosures.
Our clear impression was, also after having spoken with some of the people, that a large number of people arrive earlier to the checkpoint during the Ramadan since, anyway, they get up early to eat before they leave for work. Therefore, it is even more important than usual to open all check posts at 5 o'clock, if not earlier, in order to release the pressure. However, we feel as if speaking to deaf ears. Behind the separation barrier, on April 4, 2014, at a meeting between human rights movements and representatives from East Jerusalem neighborhoods colonel Ofer Hindi said that the services given at the checkpoints in East Jerusalem have to be improved. He also said that additional passages and lanes would be opened if need occurred. So far, nothing has been done at Qalandiya to realize this commitment.