A busy morning at Qalandiya.
We reached the checkpoint at Qalandiya at about 5:15. It was cold and dark. Groups of people were gathered around some fires. A large number of people praying together received us at the crossing to Qalandiya. As usual, people moved aside to let us pass. 5 check posts were open inside. When we arrived the lines reached the end of the roofed area, but soon they continued all the way to the parking. Evidently, the strike was over since the place had been cleaned. (Clean might be an exaggeration, but compared to last week's filth it was an improvement.)
The female soldier in the aquarium opened one turnstile out of the three at the end of the fenced-off area. This caused a loud protest from the people in the two other lines. For a moment, it looked as if people would start pushing their way into the line where the turnstile opened. Luckily, it didn’t' happen. The soldier realized her mistake and opened all three turnstiles as the checking continued. The pace was reasonable and women could join the line from the side at the entrance to the fenced-off area.
We met our friend from the "Machane Yehuda Market". He told us that the market is full with security guards, but apart from that there are hardly any people. On Thursdays and Fridays, Jerusalemites do their shopping for the Sabbath. During the rest of the week, the market is empty and businesses are closing.
At about 6 o'clock people came to wait at the humanitarian gate. At 6:10 the policemen arrived and then the security guards, but the female soldier from the DCO arrived at 6:20, and only then did the gate open for the first time. An old man wearing a jalabiya and a jacket and with a kafiya on his head wasn't allowed to cross. Those who cross without a permit (men above the age of 55) may do so only from 8 o'clock. We saw that they let him join the regular line at the entrance to the fenced-off area. We didn't see him return so probably he was allowed to enter before 8 o'clock at the check posts.
At a certain stage, we heard a loud argument among the people waiting in line at check post 1 after having passed through the turnstile. In this carefully guarded area people don't usually push or argue. No policeman, security guard or soldier reacted. Luckily, some of the people waiting in line managed to calm everybody down.
At 7:15, we joined the lines which had become shorter. Soon after 7:20, the people at the humanitarian gate were told that it wouldn't open anymore and they were sent to the regular line. It took us half an hour to cross.