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Virginia Syvan, Ina Friedman (reporting)

Classic Qalandia

All five checking stations were open when we arrived at 5:30 a.m. and the lines were already extending deep into the parking lot. Five minutes later, the line discipline collapsed, the cages were rushed, and people began pushing and shouting in an attempt to enter them. The situation continued thus, on and off, throughout much of the morning. Lines loosely formed again at 5:52, for example, but soon broke again for another round of climbing, pushing, and shouting. The melee did not calm down until well after 6:00.

Two DCO officers arrived at about 6:00 and opened the Humanitarian Gate at 6:09. There was quite a crowd waiting there, but many of the people were laborers who are not permitted to avail themselves of the Humanitarian Gate, and it took quite a while to sort them out of the crowd by checking their permits.

At one point, one of the armed security guards came running through the “Palestinian” side of the checkpoint and out into the northern parking lot. Upon his return he explained to us that he had been sent out to unravel the traffic jam exacerbated by the fact that cars coming from Ramallah and a-Ram toward the vehicle checkpoint were driving in, and thus blocking, the lane of the cars and trucks coming in the opposite direction. This is a well-known problem; it has now developed to the point that security guards are being employed as traffic cops.

At 7:20 we joined one of the three lines through the “cages,” and it took us 30 minutes to exit the checkpoint.