Qalandiya - long queues again
The morning after publication of Trump’s program. The world (and the occupation) unchanged.
The place was busy when we arrived at 6.15. Roadworks are still in process. They have been going on for at least two years yet haven’t yet reached the section between the squares in the road that leads to the checkpoint, where there is no sidewalk and where the lights have not worked for years. People walk at the side of the road in the dark and it is hard to see them. It is really dangerous. Remember that this is within Jerusalem’s control.
We parked in a bay along the road. Warmly coated and with umbrellas we made our way to the Palestinian side. Luckily, the rain stopped at this point. On the Palestinian side we were greeted by an almost forgotten sight: there were queues extending right out of the sheltered area, and the three entrances were closed, with red lights. We felt it was years since seeing such a thing, but then remembered that in fact the new automated system of checking was introduced only a year ago.
The beigel seller, Abus Ramzi, stood next to one of the entrances. He is now allowed to be there. He said that such queues tend to form every couple of weeks – the entrances shut and lines form. Apparently inside not all the six checking machines are being operated.
After a short while the lights turned green and the queues disappeared. But when the entrances closed again later, a drizzle started and the lines ‘snaked’ under the shelter. This kept happening while we were there: the lights turned green, entrances opened, the queues vanished. Then, again, red lights … This is peak traffic time. Abu Ramzi says that he arrives at 4.30. At 5 the first workers begin to arrive. In the past they used to come before 4.
M. who sells us tea in his kiosk, is happy to see us after the long interval, and recommends his herbal tea, and offers us herbs to take home. We asked him what he had heard about the Trump plan. His response: ‘I don’t hear anything. I am interested only in my wife, my children, my home, and earning a living. Apart from that I’m not interested. Even my uncle I don’t hear.” Should we laugh or cry at such a response?
An area next to the kiosk is roped off by cords that prevent entry to the upper parking lot. There is work in progress there. M. says that he was told that the kiosk would have to move. He keeps getting moved but doesn’t know what is being built there on land belonging to his family. In the area that had been the parking lot of the checkpoint some work is happening and there are piles of materials. We have still not managed to understand what the plans are for this area. But it does not appear to be a parking lot for the Palestinians.
At about 7 o’clock we entered the checkpoint. Now there were no queues outside, but inside were quite long lines in front of the checking machines, not all of which were being used. After that, most of the Palestinians go through the electronic checking gates without delay. We were not delayed in personal checking and, in spite of waiting in line, we passed in about only 10 minutes.