A calm morning in Qalandiya and a meeting with an old acquaintance.
We continue to park on the Palestinian side because due to the works on the Israeli side, there is no place to park there. We arrived at a quarter to six. When we approached from the Israeli side in the dark, we saw that the pedestrian bridge was still covered in Christmas lights. For the first time, we saw that the vehicle crossing to the Palestinian side is closed. The crossing to the Israeli side went as in the past. We approached slowly and asked the security guard who was close to us what was going on. He said he was opening and let us move on. A moment later, he remembered to ask who we actually were, but the answer "Machsomwatch" put his mind at rest. He signaled us to continue and indeed the checkpoint opened and remained open. It is not clear why they closed before. After we parked, our first stop is at our friend Abu Ramzi, the pretzel seller. Today the grandson came with him to help, and later he will go to school. Abu Ramzi reports that the situation at the pedestrian checkpoint is normal. Near him, there is a falafel and another food stand that operates as usual, and, opposite, the kiosk. We'll get to them on our way back. The cake seller has been stationed for some time under the shed, near one of the entrances to the checkpoint building. The stand for selling tickets for mobile phones (Palestinians usually use a phone with a prepaid card) and for charging RavKav, which we already saw on our previous shift, has moved from the eastern side to the western side. Next to the gate at the western end, the woman we met before was waiting with a sick baby in a stroller. Today she was waiting with her (presumably) husband. We wished her good morning, but immediately after that a security guard came and opened the gate for her. Her escort then left and she moved with the toddler in the stroller.
From the direction of the Qalandiya refugee camp flashes an electronic advertising sign, which is a striking contrast to the rest of the "setting" around.
Many young people still climb the fence surrounding the checkpoint complex on the side adjacent to the Qalandiya camp, to save themselves the usual detour to enter from the east. And we still wonder why they don't open the gate that is there in the fence and make it easier for the public. An electronic advertising sign flashes above a building in the Qalandiya camp and young people who climbed the fence are coming from this direction.
The situation at the checkpoint was very calm. Everyone who arrives enters immediately. One of the turnstiles is very creaky. We also noticed this last time we were here, but now it's really jarring. The squeak is heard all the time. Is it really that hard to oil the carousel??? Suddenly someone approaches us with a big smile on his face. How happy we were to see him. He used to work at the pita bakery in the Mahane Yehuda market and we would meet him every shift. He speaks fluent Hebrew and we used to talk every now and then. A little before the opening of the new checkpoint he stopped working there, then the Coronavirus came and we hadn't seen him since. He says that he is now working in Atarot and is satisfied.
Around a quarter to seven, we approached the turnstile at the middle entrance and peeked in to see what the situation was. We saw that there were really short queues for the baggage check positions. They all seemed to be open and there were no delays. We decided to give up the passing to the Israeli side this time. On the way back to the car, we photographed, now in daylight, the upgraded falafel stand. Now it is inside some kind of building. The sellers and the frying station are raised, and below is the table on which all the salads and other types of food are placed, while on top there is a roof. It is certainly more comfortable that way on rainy days. Today is not rainy, only the Jerusalem cold penetrates the bones. The sellers are happy to have us taking pictures and offer us falafel. For us it's a little early for fried food, so we politely acknowledged and said our goodbyes. At the upgraded falafel stand we are offered to treat ourselves.
We drove back to Jerusalem via A-Ram. The temporary Jib checkpoint is not manned this morning (perhaps because we passed just before seven in the morning). In the Hizmeh area, there is slight traffic congestion and from there within Jerusalem, there is reasonable traffic congestion for this hour.