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Chana Stein (translating), Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting)

A difficult morning at Qalandiya.

05.15. As usual in the summer, we parked on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint. The parking-lot was very full and there were long lines at the vehicle checkpoint. The beigel seller was at his post, but the tea kiosk was still closed.

All 5 checking stations were open, with a small queue.  But soon this grew much longer until there were 3 lines stretching right out of the shed.

Soon after 6 a.m. the D.C.O. officer arrived, joined shortly afterwards by a policewoman and guard. The officer soon opened the Humanitarian Gate, allowing through those entitled to pass and sending others back to the regular lines. Some of these tried to squeeze into the enclosures, infuriating people who were waiting further back in the queue.  Suddenly there was a crush, the queues collapsed and a pile of people were scrambling at the entrance to the enclosures.

As usual in such situations, many people just withdrew, filling the benches.  It took a long while untile queues re-formed.  There were many people waiting at the Humanitarian Gate. A woman with a babyinfo-icon in her arms arrived. The officer, the policewoman and the guard entered the far side of the gate, opened it from there and allowed those waiting at the gate, into the enclosure before the turnstile. The woman with the baby, and some elderly people were allowed through the extra gate next to the turnstile, so that they could quickly reach the checking stations. Subsequently they opened the turnstile a number of times, allowing groups to reach the checking stations.  It took 15 minutes until they all passed. Meanwhile more people gathered at the humanitarian gate itself.

 Only towards 7 a.m. were three lines finally organized, still long. At 7.30 the lines were a bit shorter and fitted within the shed. The D.C.O. officer was still present and continued to open the humanitarian gate.

We were obliged to leave before all the queues were over.  We drove to Jerusalem via A-Ram. The checkpoint there was manned, but most cars passed unchecked. The traffic at Hizme was light so we quickly reached the city centre.