Qalandiya - crowding, shouting and pushing
Another Qalandiya morning, again queues collapse … till when?
05.15. Dark and cold. On the Palestinian side, the falafel stand is inside the shed, as well as the beigel seller with his wagon, while outside is the renewed kiosk. As usual, people enter via turnstiles at the end of the three cages, and they wait in the ‘slalom’, an area bordered by low fences, to reach the 5 checking stations. At this stage, the lines are reasonably orderly and all 5 stations are open.
As the lines were orderly, women were allowed to fit in at the entrance to the cages. By 6 o’clock there were already people waiting for the humanitarian gate to open. As usual this happened late, and as usual we found the sight of people trying to force their way into the leftmost cage, making those in line angry. In a second the lines collapsed and turned into a mass of shouting and pushing. When a policeman arrived, followed by guards and the D.C.O. officer, they found crowds waiting for them at the humanitarian gate. Till when are we to see these depressing sights? And more important, till when are the unfortunate Palestinians, whose only desire is to provide for their families as our “hewers of wood and drawers of water,’ to suffer this???
The women so entitled passed through the humanitarian gate. People who arrived for the Ministry of the Interior were told to wait until 7.30. Meanwhile, we went outside to see (unsuccessfully) any changes behind the white metal hoarding that hides the new building in progress. On our return we asked the D.C.O. officer and the policeman when the new wing was to open. They said they did not know. The guards now and again entered the checking station area – it was unclear why they did so.
Fortunately today the lines re-formed relatively quickly. The policeman called those waiting for the Ministry of the Interior even before 7.30, and they entered via the humanitarian gate and a passage that bypasses the checking station.
At 7.45 the lines were short enough to fit within the cages, and we joined one. Passage took under 30 minutes.
Subsequently it turned out that an end to the nightmare was imminent. A week later, on 20.2, the new, improved wing was opened with much publicity, with technological features which should make passage must faster and easier.