Qalandiya - long lines, anger, nervousness and frustration

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Ghitta Dror, Ina Friedman (reporting)

Simply Harrowing

It was difficult to discern how many checking stations were open when we arrived at 5:30 (as well as afterward) because the progress forward was so  v  e  r  y    s  l  o  w  that it seemed that neither number 4 nor number 5 were open at all ( it turned out that 5 was open and 4 opened around 6:00). Apparently this was also the situation well before we arrived, because the lines reached the end of the narrow corridor leading into the shed. And as a result of the frustration of those waiting in them, the lines collapsed at 5:35 !! and the mob scene of pushing, climbing, quarreling ,shouting, whistling, etc. at the entrances to the cages continued for two hours before the lines re-formed at about 7:30.

We (my partner and I) have been observing at the Qalandiya checkpoint for 9 years, and this morning impressed us as the height  (or one of the heights) of failed management of the checkpoint that we have witnessed in almost a decade.  (Perhaps it was because a new group of soldier were manning the checking stations, although various people reported to us that the previous morning had been quite reasonable.)

It is difficult to describe the depth of the anger that was expressed all around us (and toward us, as well, as we, too, stood there helpless to affect the situation). The name “Hitler,” among others, was having a field day in the shed.

It should be said forthrightly: in our view, the failed management of the checkpoints should be regarded as a strategic failure, because it embitters the Palestinians who must pass through them day after day to the point where it encourages feelings of vengeance against the soldiers (and Israelis in general) and causes enormous harm to any hope of a common future with the Palestinians, either as neighbors over a border or as citizens of a shared state. What we experienced this morning was simply harrowing.

At the same time, the Humanitarian Gate was mercifully opened at 5:55 (by a security guard, later joined by a DCO soldier) and operated smoothly throughout the shift.

We also managed to distribute a number of Kav La’Oved fliers.

At 7:35, after the lines re-formed (more or less), we joined the least problematic one about 2 meters from the entrance to the shed. From there it took us an hour and 10 minutes to reach and complete the security check. This, to the best of our recollection, is a record in our 9 years of standing on line to traverse the Qalandiya checkpoint at the end of a morning shift.