The Height of Failure
The Qalandiya checkpoint is neither built nor equipped to accommodate the number of people who are may pass through it on a standard morning on their way to work, to school, to a hospital, etc., and so the passage through it turns into a daily punishment.
The Humanitarian Gate opened at 6:13 and was operated properly by DCO soldiers who do their work well and with care.
Everything else about this morning reeked of failure. Although all five checking stations were open when we arrived at 5:30, the pace of forward progress was very slow, and the lines already reached into the parking lot. Ten minutes later the line discipline collapsed and the scene reverted to people pushing and shouting at the entrances to the “cages,” while the rest either crowded around them or pulled back for fear of bodily harm. This situation prevailed for the better part of an hour and a quarter until the lines slowly began to form again at about 7:00 – and even then only two out of the three.
The situation at the entrance to the cage on the left invites calamity because it virtually tempts people to jump the queue – which was the reason for the lines to collapse in the first place.
From our standpoint, it’s unnecessary to elaborate here beyond the first sentence of this report.
We joined one of the re-formed lines at 7:30 -- theoretically at the end of the morning “rush hour” --and it took us 60 minutes to get through the checkpoint. This is, without a doubt, a record during our seven years of monitoring the Qalandia checkpoint.
A year ago we read and heard a lot of self-serving hokum from government ministers about the deplorable state of the checkpoints and decisions to invest millions of shekels in improving them for the benefit of the Palestinians who pass through them daily. At Qalandia, to date, the only change we have seen is the widening of the “cages” by a few centimeters, and even then not necessarily for the better. Half of the benches have disappeared.
One of them has left behind a large piece of metal sticking up through the floor that is a menace to anyone walking through the checkpoint. And nobody gives a hoot. The only message broadcast there is one of sheer contempt. Shameful.