A difficult morning at Qalandiya.
05.15. Already a number of people were waiting on the Israel side for transport.
There were long lines. Only 4 checking stations were open – no.5 was not working. People complained that the queues reached all the way to the road. Yesterday the situation was also bad. One man said that he reached work only at 9, and his employer - in Atarot – wanted to send him home.
Women who arrived were allowed to fit into the leftmost lane. A few times it looked as if the lines would collapse – perhaps it was thanks to the women’s presence that this was prevented at first.
One acquaintance told us that during the Holidays he did not return home because of the closure, Instead, he slept at his employer’s, in Modi’in.
Our friend H. who lives in Bidu, told us that his son was recently married. But the celebration was marred: Because of the incident in Har Adar, there were closures in neighbouring villages. Instead of the 800 invitees, only about 80 arrived, and he had to throw out a lot of meat he had bought for the occasion.
By 6.10 there were already a number of people waiting at the Humanitarian Gate, but with no sign of the D.C.O. Just then the regular lines collapsed, and turned into a heap of shouting and pushing people. Older people tried to calm things, but each time the carousel opened, the chaos resumed. In the end the older people gave up and retreated. The few remaining benches filled up. It took 40 minutes for the queues to re-form.
Only at about 6.20 did the D.C.O. officer arrived, with guards to open the Humanitarian Gate. Now the fifth checking station also opened. The pressure was great. At least they did leave the gate open until about 8 o’clock. At one point, when a man arrived in a wheelchair, they immediately opened the gate next to the carousel at the humanitarian gate, and one of the guards accompanied him toe the checking station and arranged for the gates there to be opened for him.
Meanwhile we chatted with a man who told us he had been living 15 years in the U.S.A. He has an American passport, as does his wife who was born in Aemerica of a Palestinian family. Over the years they visited the family here many times, and decided to return so that their children could preserve their Palestinian identity. Here it is easier to keep discipline among the children, so that they shouldn’t take to drugs or bad influences.
At about 7.30, the lines were shorter, and we joined one. While we chatted in line in the cage with our “American” friend it still took us 40 minutes to pass to the Israeli side.