Qalandiya, Tue 29.3.11, Morning
Jib, 5:40: Relatively few people on short lines that moved quickly. We left at 6:10 a.m.
Qalandiya, 6:20: Another bad morning here. Long lines waiting to enter the cage-like “sleeves.” The revolving gates at the end of all three “sleeves” were working, as were all five checking booths. Nonetheless, there was heavy crowding in the sleeves, and our time check (with the help of one of the men found at the end of the line when we arrived) showed that it took 2 hours and 10 minutes to get through the checkpoint. World Council of Churches volunteers counted less than 500 people passing through between 5:30 and 6:30, in place of what they said were usually 1,000 during those hours. A crowd also built up periodically at the Humanitarian Gate. Though it was initially opened only once each every hour, the pace changed to once every 10-15 minutes as the time grew closer to 8 a.m. The officer in charge of the Humanitarian Gate spoke with us at length and was responsive to our requests, e.g., advancing women with young children to the head of the line.
The mood of frustration and anger among the people waiting on the three lines through the “sleeves” was particularly high. We were approached by any number of men, all conveying the same message: over the past 2-3 weeks, the amount of time it takes to negotiate the checkpoint has become intolerable. Many expressed the belief that the slowdown was deliberate. We spoke with a blue-uniformed policeman who sensed the widespread frustration but explained that all the checking stations were working and people were doing their best. He also intimated that the checkers manning the stations were a new group, which may have accounted for feeling that things were moving more slowly than usual. To his credit, he also briefly attempted to explain this directly to the exasperated men standing around us. At 8 a.m., when we left, the lines leading into the sleeves were shorter and crowding inside the sleeves had