Qalandiya - Relatively light traffic

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Virginia Syvan, Ina Friedman (reporting)

All five checking stations were open when we arrived at 5:30 a.m. and, as prevailed during all of our shifts in the month of Ramadan, the lines were relatively short and did not stretch beyond the curb of the parking lot – even though one of the “cages” was closed evidently due to a problem with its turnstile. The situation remained this way throughout the shift.

At 6:10 a DCO officer arrived with security guards (whom we later understood he was briefing) but he did not open the Humanitarian Gate and soon left. At 6:25 two women tourists arrived at the gate with a medium-sized suitcase and fretted that they would not be able to get through the turnstiles with it. After we called the DCO, the officer returned but would not open the Humanitarian Gate for the tourists, pointing them instead to the “cages” – and, indeed, they managed to get the suitcase through the turnstile but we could not gauge their effort as we could not see the turnstile. At 6:40 the officer returned again and, when he found a number of people in front of the gate, began checking permits and opened the gate for the first and last time. The logic behind his decisions on when to open the gate and when not defied our understanding.

At 6:45, when the “cages” were emptied each time the turnstiles opened, we passed through to the checking-station area and were out of the checkpoint within 10 minutes.