Trending Topics:

Qalandia: How Palestinians experience the largest Israeli checkpoint, in photographs

on 49 Comments

On a typical day at the largest Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank, hundreds of mostly West Bank Palestinians line up and patiently stand in between metal bars, their hands gripped around their hawiya, or identity cards, waiting to cross the maze of concrete called Qalandia.

Their voices are drowned out by the beeping of metal detectors and the rattling of steel as Palestinians push through turnstiles, one after the other. Orders are shouted by an Israeli soldier from a loudspeaker in Hebrew — a language most Palestinians in the West Bank do not understand.

Meanwhile, lines and lines of vehicles, driven by Palestinians with Jerusalem (or Israeli) IDs, are held up in traffic at the drive-through section of the checkpoint, located between the Ramallah-area village of Qalandia and occupied East Jerusalem, as soldiers stop each car to demand ID cards and search the vehicles. Palestinians with West Bank IDs are not allowed to cross the checkpoint by car, even as passengers.

Mondoweiss spoke with Palestinians crossing Qalandia about their daily life navigating the most notorious Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank. While Qalandia is often crowded on a typical day, on the day of Mondoweiss’ visit — a Friday, there were fewer crossers owing to rain and an Israeli army closed military zone over Ramallah.

The wall at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

A general view of Qalandia checkpoint and Israel’s separation wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Tens of thousands of Palestinians cross this checkpoint each day, the majority of whom are Jerusalem residents — often referred to as “Jerusalemites”, who are living in Jerusalem-area neighborhoods– like Kufr Aqab and Shuafat refugee camp — that were cut off from the rest of Jerusalem by Israel’s wall.

The turnstile at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Umm Omar tells Mondoweiss that she is traveling to Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam located in occupied East Jerusalem, and to visit relatives. “I rarely go to Jerusalem because it’s very difficult and tiring to cross the checkpoint,” she said. She is traveling alone because her husband and children are not permitted to enter Jerusalem or Israel.

The line at Qalandia, photo by Jaclynn Ashly.

Since 2015, Palestinian men over the age of 55 and women over the age of 50 have been permitted by Israeli authorities to cross the checkpoints without a permit. Palestinians with West Bank IDs who do not meet these age requirements can only cross the checkpoint with Israeli military-issued permits, which are oftentimes extremely difficult to obtain.

Moufak Adelrazak, at the turnstile at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Moufak Adelrazak, 60, is also heading to Al-Aqsa for prayers. Like many of the crossers Mondoweiss spoke to, he considers the waiting time at the checkpoint to be the worst part of crossing into Jerusalem. “Depending on the traffic, it takes me sometimes one hour, sometimes two or three to get to Al-Aqsa. If there was no checkpoint, it wouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes to get there,” Adelrazak said.

Ghaleb al-Hadidi and his son at the turnstile at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Ghaleb al-Hadidi is taking his sick child to the hospital. He says he brings his child to Jerusalem to receive treatment because the hospitals in Ramallah are too busy and overcrowded. Most Palestinians are prohibited from crossing the checkpoint to receive treatment in Jerusalem, except for serious humanitarian cases. In these cases, however, even a Palestinian who has a relative considered to be a “security threat” to Israel can be barred from accessing life-saving treatment.

Going through the metal detector at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Al-Hadid’s child places his bag on a security conveyor belt before passing through another steel turnstile where he will reach an Israeli soldier who will check IDs and permits. Qalandia checkpoint was built in 2002, as part of Israel’s separation wall. This is the only reality al-Hadid’s small boy has ever known.

The turnstile at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

One woman (not pictured) who Mondoweiss attempted to speak with, responded: “Why should I do an interview? The whole world knows what’s happening here, and no one does anything. There’s no point in talking about it anymore,” before hurrying through one of the turnstiles.

Aisha at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Aisha, 63, is on her way to pray. Mondoweiss spoke to her during a time Israeli soldiers locked the turnstiles in the checkpoint. Palestinian crossers were patiently waiting for when the soldiers decided to unlock them. Aisha says this can add hours onto the time it takes to cross. Soldiers usually say that this is necessary amid high traffic at the checkpoint. However, on Friday, they intermittently locked the turnstiles, despite the fact that there were very few Palestinians crossing. “It’s not human how they treat people,” Aisha said.

Crossing Qalandia. Notice the blue and white paint on the concrete dividers, inside of the West Bank. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

A Palestinian man passes Israel’s separation wall, connected to the checkpoint, on his way to cross Qalandia into occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers erected cement blocks leading to the checkpoint and painted them blue and white, the colors of the Israeli flag.

Coming to the checkpoint at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

The entrance of the drive-through section of the checkpoint. Only Palestinians with blue IDs — those with Jerusalem residency or Israeli citizenship — are permitted to cross this portion of Qalandia. Palestinians with West Bank IDs are not permitted to drive into Jerusalem and Israel, and are only allowed to cross the checkpoint by foot.

Murad with her 10-year-old grandson, at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Murad, 60, is traveling to Jerusalem to see an eye doctor. She tells Mondoweiss she has seen this same doctor since before Israel erected the checkpoint and the wall. She travels through Qalandia twice a month and it takes at least an hour and half to get to the checkpoint from her town of Qatanna in the Jerusalem district of the West Bank. On this day, she brought her 10-year-old grandson along with her so that he could see Jerusalem for the first time.

Adel Dawood Mo’bel at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

“It’s not so difficult [dealing with the checkpoint],” Adel Dawood Mo’bel, 62, tells Mondoweiss. “I am an old man so usually the soldiers don’t speak to me much. But the worst part is having to stand for long periods of time.”

Resting on a bench outside Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Two women and a young girl sit and rest on a bench outside of the checkpoint. They told Mondoweiss they were too tired to do an interview, but smiled for a photo. Older Palestinians often complain of severe exhaustion owing to the prolonged process of crossing the checkpoint, which can leave them standing for hours.

Adel, at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Adel, 60, is on his way to pray. He says on several occasions the soldiers have not allowed him to cross and sent him back. “Many times they have not let me cross. Sometimes they just decide you can’t pass based on the way you look,” he said. “When they don’t allow me, I do my prayers outside the checkpoint.”

Going through the turnstile at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Palestinians line up and wait after Israeli soldiers locked the turnstile, despite the limited traffic. Israeli rights group B’Tselem has noted that Qalandia checkpoint is emblematic of Israeli human rights violations “to the routine life of Palestinians.”

Rasim Osba’ at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Rasim Abu Osba’ is visiting a friend who is hospitalized in Jerusalem. He hasn’t crossed the checkpoint for five months. “The soldiers at the checkpoint do not treat us well. If it’s not important I would never go through this checkpoint,” he said. Only two family members of his hospitalized friend, who has a West Bank ID, are allowed to visit him. His other friends and family members are prohibited from visiting him in Jerusalem. “I hope he feels better soon,” Osba’ told Mondoweiss.

The turnstile at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Ali (not pictured) crosses the checkpoint every Friday to pray at Al-Aqsa and sometimes during the week for “business.” He says the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint “like to humiliate the people.” However, he has no choice but to endure the harsh treatment because “they do all of this so that we stop going to Jerusalem and stop going to Al-Aqsa. So I must continue to go, despite how difficult it is, because this is our land.”

Mohammed Yousef at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Mohammad Yousef is a Palestinian from Jordan. He moved to the West Bank two months ago and now works in a restaurant in Beit Hanina in occupied East Jerusalem. He crosses the checkpoint every day to go to work. It took him awhile to get used to this daily routine, and, like the others, he says the worst aspect of the experience is the traffic and waiting time.

Waiting at Qalandia. (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

A Palestinian man waits in traffic at the drive-through section of Qalandia checkpoint. When Mondoweiss asked a man (not pictured) in his car what was the most difficult aspect of crossing the checkpoint, he responded: “The traffic!” while gesturing in a frustrated manner toward the long line of cars in front of him.

Jaclynn Ashly

Jaclynn Ashly is a journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. You can find her on Twitter @jaclynnashly

Other posts by .

Posted In:

49 Responses

  1. DaBakr on January 25, 2019, 10:16 pm

    So desperate to make his point about the intellectual superiority (or, possibly, the stalemate) between Morris (limited of course by both the subtle as well as the obvious proclivities of the haaretz pro-palestinian bias) Gideon Levy is portrayed by author as if he were the the paragon of virtue and truth where human dignity, righteousness and human rights are concerned when in reality it is much more like they selected a stand- in Gomer Pyle or better yet, (as no insult should be meant for ‘ol Gomer or Jim Nabors) Justin Bieber to present and represent the ‘oh-so-lofty’ haartz anti-israel view and its ridiculous premise that it cares somehow for serious concern that jews, the world over let alone ashkenazi, european, sephardim, african, asian and others.*

    * In other words, while I myself have stated on numerous occasions that G.L. is worse then a joke, (he’s a paid joke/hack who works for his israel hating pro palestinian handers). I think it’s well known haaretz would have folded years ago if not for the infusion of far left american moon bogey. Even with that, the infinitesimally small distribution in israel/hebrew combine with the very slightly larger distribution to another extremely small segment of american far left so-called ‘progressive’ jews

    • bcg on January 25, 2019, 10:30 pm

      @DeBakr: I have tried to find a sentence in your post that isn’t pure ad-hominem, and I have failed.

      • DaBakr on January 25, 2019, 11:23 pm


        I might have more then disdain for Gideon Levy but I fail to see where I attack Mr Ofir personally or even professionally. In fact, other then the obvious disdain I freely admit for G. Levy I can’t find anyplace where I attack him personally either. (Gomer Pyle? Possibly but hardly an egregious ad hominem attack)

        I think you need to re read the working definition of ad hominem before continuing. But, if it makes you feel any better, I would definitely attack Levy with ad hominem if it were a) permitted as a general rule of propriety and b) if he gave a shit(as in actually read my commentary which is HIGHLY unlikely) and attacked me first but c) I would never attack Mr. Ofir because he, afaik, generally adheres to the same rules of civility even if accompanied by extreme sarcasm, criticism, accusation, and angry nasty criticism if it adheres to the general standards of the rules of commentary. (,i understand, th is may sound ridiculous considering what LOTS, of idiots right here do but still, I think those of us who know and make the effort deserve at least the minimum of respect

      • Ismail on February 13, 2019, 9:54 am

        You’re lucky. I couldn’t even find a proper sentence of any kind in that grammatical miasma of his.

      • Ismail on February 13, 2019, 10:11 am

        You guys are remarkably patient with this jackdaw fellow. You do realize, don’t you, that the highlight of the poor guy’s day is having tout le mondoweiss talking about…him!

        I know that defenders of Zionism have a tough row to hoe, but surely there are more literate, historically aware, sincere partisans of the indefensible than the gibbering Mr Daw. Aren’t there?

        Why feed this troll’s narcissism? I wouldn’t waste another electron on him. Let him post, reply if he makes a substantive, interesting point, and ignore the rest. This means you’ll be doing a lot of ignoring, he’ll wilt without the attention, and everyone else will get on just fine. That’s a win in my book.

    • DaBakr on January 25, 2019, 11:11 pm

      * note*

      While I find this authors article both interesting and worthy of comment I must stress that this comment was meant for, directed at and specifically written in response to J. Ofirs op-ed written about Benny Morris and the back and forth in the pages of Haaretz with G. Levy.

      P.S. through a strange accident, when I made a small edit this comment somehow disappeared from the article it directly addressed: J.Ofirs op-ed about the give and take between Benny Morris and Gideon Levy in Haaretz. I’m sure it was just an odd glitch but it would be appreciated if a commentary page editor could reunite this comment with the intended Ofir/Haaretz piece. Otherwise, my response has no connection or bearing (my critics here might say, “so what’s new with that?”) But, I’ll leave it up to the judgement of the editor/monitor. I think my comment may have been critical and sarcastic, but had continuity from the previous comment and would provide further context to Mr Ofir rebutting me if he so chooses. Thank you.

    • Talkback on January 26, 2019, 3:44 am

      DaBakr, why don’t you just write that you are mad that you don’t know how to counter Levy’s arguments?

  2. Jackdaw on January 26, 2019, 1:09 am

    Where are the endless lines of people?
    Where are the humiliations?
    Where is the abuse?

    BTW, every Jew who enters a mall in Israel is stopped, searched or questioned.

    • bcg on January 26, 2019, 11:54 am

      @Jackdaw: Machsom Watch:

    • Mooser on January 26, 2019, 12:32 pm

      Isn’t that nice? “Jackdaw” asks the questions, and then supplies the answer.

      “BTW, every Jew who enters a mall in Israel is stopped, searched or questioned.”

      That is a security precaution to try and prevent intra-Jewish violence and gunfights and looting. Absolutely necessary, what with all the guns and explosives floating around Israel.

    • Tom Suarez on January 27, 2019, 6:31 am

      Hello Jackdaw, you say that every Jew who enters a mall in Israel is stopped, searched or questioned…
      NO: every person is [etc]. Your wording implies it has something to do with being Jewish, as if to “balance” or justify the other racism.
      My experience at Israeli malls is this:
      1. people who “look Arab” are, yes, profiled;
      2. the entire security at malls is … curious. As people’s bags are checked at the pedestrian entrances, cars freely enter the underground parking areas without any to-do. So anyone who wants to cause violence knows to drive to the mall with lots of bad stuff in their trunk, rather than a little bit of it in their bag.
      But the entire issue you raise is a diversion from the race laws that can not be spun as anything other than race laws.

      • Jackdaw on January 27, 2019, 11:43 am


        You are absolutely wrong.

        Every male is challenged by the mall security guard at an entrance checkpoint and asked if the male is carrying a firearm. Every female with a handbag, or student with a backpack must open the bag for the security guard, and every car entering a mall parking lot is stopped and often searched.

        If you don’t know what your talking about, you really should stay quiet. And BTW, malls with lots of Arab customers have less security or no security checkpoints at all.

      • Tom Suarez on January 27, 2019, 6:25 pm

        Hello Jackdaw,
        Thank you for the reply. But did you read what I wrote? I did not say that people are not stopped to show their bags. In fact, I said that they are.
        What I said is that cars typically enter without checks. My point (which I thought was obvious) is that terrorists do not need to personally enter the mall proper to cause violence. That, yes, is true, and yes, I have driven in & out of Tel Aviv mall garages.

      • Jackdaw on January 28, 2019, 1:02 am

        ” But did you read what I wrote? ”

        I read it and dismissed it, for the simple reason that I live in Israel and visit malls regularly and I am monotonously checked upon entry even though I am a 60 year old, blue eyed Azhkenaz.

        Leave me alone now.

      • echinococcus on January 28, 2019, 9:00 am

        So you still haven’t learned to read, as your repeated response makes obvious.
        As for being left alone, that’s not an acceptable request coming from an invader..

  3. Tom Suarez on January 28, 2019, 2:10 pm

    Hello Jackdaw,
    No, sorry, you can’t post problematic stuff and then say to leave you alone.
    All your talk about how much you, as an Ashkenazi Jew, are hassled by mall security, or whether predominantly “Arab” malls might have loose security (yeah, why is that?), are irrelevant, diversions from the actual issue: that Israel is an apartheid state, that people are not equal under the law.
    Until you endorse ridding the state of race laws and making everyone equal, your examples of how you, too, undergo security are sadly comical.
    Until someone ethnically cleansed three minutes ago has the same right to “return” as someone claiming to have left three thousand years ago, Israeli equality is a scam.
    Tell the kid in the refugee camp that you had your bags checked at the mall even though you’re you.

    • amigo on January 28, 2019, 3:07 pm

      “Leave me alone now.” . jackduh

      Don,t you mean leave Israel alone.

    • Jackdaw on January 28, 2019, 3:10 pm

      No, Tom.

      The actual issue is that the author, Ms Ashly, tried to make a story out of the Qalandiya checkpoint, and I called ‘bullshit’.

    • Jackdaw on January 29, 2019, 12:41 pm


      Well. This is an apartheid website where Hatchet Annie censors half my comments while Phil’s fair haired boys can comment at liberty.


      • Mooser on January 29, 2019, 3:14 pm

        “Jackdaw” why are you so desperate to be included at Mondoweiss? Doesn’t make sense.

      • amigo on January 29, 2019, 3:42 pm

        “Well. This is an apartheid website where Hatchet Annie censors half my comments while Phil’s fair haired boys can comment at liberty.”jackduh

        Jacko , have you told Phil that you are a 60 year old Blue Eyed commenter. Maybe he will treat you as one of his fair haired boy,s .

        “I live in Israel and visit malls regularly and I am monotonously checked upon entry even though I am a 60 year old, blue eyed Azhkenaz. “.jackduh

      • Jackdaw on January 29, 2019, 5:18 pm

        I’m desperate to tell the Truth, which among other things, is that Annie trammels on divergent opinions.

        Mondoweiss preaches equality for Palestine, but practices inequality.

        Animal Farm, redux.

      • eljay on January 29, 2019, 7:48 pm

        || Jackdaw: I’m desperate to tell the Truth … ||

        You’re desperate to peddle Jewish supremacism (Zionism). It may have everything to do with Zionist “Truth” but it has nothing to do with justice, accountability or equality.

      • RoHa on January 29, 2019, 9:20 pm

        “Hatchet Annie”

        I love the Lizzie Borden imagery!

        Annie, you should start calling yourself that. People will take you even more seriously then.

      • RoHa on January 29, 2019, 9:24 pm

        “Annie trammels on divergent opinions”

        should be

        “Annie trammels divergent opinions.”

        “Trammel”, as a verb, takes a direct object.

      • RoHa on January 29, 2019, 9:27 pm

        I used to have fair hair, but the hair I’m left with now is brown and grey.

        I do have blue eyes, though.

        And yet I cannot comment without let or hindrance. Quite a few of my comments end up on the cutting room floor.

      • annie on January 29, 2019, 9:38 pm

        for the record, i cant recall ever trashing one of your comments jack. generally, i don’t moderate much anymore. and when i do and encounter comments i find questionable (or detest), i just skip over them, leave them unmoderated (let someone else decide what to do with them). iow, i very very rarely trash peoples comments. once a month at the most. but it’s ok if you want to blame me. if you notice a mini flood of comments going through all at the same time and yours are still sitting there waiting (as opposed to disappeared), that’s more my style.

      • echinococcus on January 30, 2019, 1:57 am


        Wildly off topic, the imagery is interesting. Not the hair or eyes, the cutting room that, I am sure, Mr Weiss sped to rent with the first donation.

    • echinococcus on January 30, 2019, 2:26 am


      “To trammel on” seems to be (at least judging from the few times I heard it) a New-Yorkerism, possibly due to either phonetic similarity in US speech or Germanic influence: confusing “trammel” (= entangle or restrict, hold, etc.) with “trample [on]” ( = tread heavily so as to bruise, crush, or injure.) The usage may well be more widespread geographically, reaching the mysterious Orient, too.

      • Mooser on January 30, 2019, 6:19 pm

        ” reaching the mysterious Orient, too.”

        All the way to Japan:

        “Comes a train of little ladies
        From scholastic trammels free,
        Each a little bit afraid is,
        Wondering what the world can be!”

  4. Jackdaw on January 30, 2019, 12:31 am


    Funny how you just happened to stumble over my accusatory comment. Pure happenstance.

    I don’t recall seeing any other commentor complaining about half their comments not being posted.

    RoHa? eljay?
    Are your comments regularly posted?
    Mine sure aren’t.

    • Mooser on January 30, 2019, 7:20 pm

      “Mine sure aren’t. Why?” “Jackdaw”

      Probably because the Mondo Mods are human beings, and feel sorry for you.

    • annie on January 30, 2019, 8:13 pm

      i didn’t “stumble” on it, i read it on the back page when it came in (where i read almost all the comments) and didn’t clear it (it’s spam). then i went to the trash to find out what you were talking about and there i saw others where you’d mentioned me by name. write phil and adam and they can take it up w/the mods if they think it’s important. we rarely have emails about the commenters. i have no interest in writing them about it as it doesn’t concern me. if it concerns you, write them.

      btw, of the 35 comments on this thread 9 are yours. somewhere a violinist is playing your tune.

      • Jackdaw on January 31, 2019, 12:36 am

        No Annie.
        The question is how many of my comments were deleted, not how many were published.

      • Mooser on January 31, 2019, 4:33 pm

        “The question is how many of my comments were deleted”

        “Jackdaw” is trying to set aPrivacy Policy. trap. Clever little bird. Personal information (like number and content of deleted comments) is not promulgated.

      • oldgeezer on January 31, 2019, 9:40 pm


        I apologize calling you a whiney punk.

        I omitted your apparent best attribute – an obsessed whiney punk.

    • eljay on January 31, 2019, 8:08 am

      || Jackdaw: … I don’t recall seeing any other commentor complaining about half their comments not being posted.

      RoHa? eljay?
      Are your comments regularly posted? … ||

      FWIW, my comments are regularly posted. Occasionally they aren’t, but I don’t complain about it.

      If I had to guess why mine are and yours aren’t, I’d say it’s because I:
      – do advocate the universal and consistent application of justice, accountability and equality; and
      – don’t hypocritically advocate, justify and defend a preferred brand of evil.

      But that’s just my guess.

    • oldgeezer on January 31, 2019, 8:35 am


      Lots of my responses don’t make it through. Sometimes I guess why and the other times I just shake my head.

      You don’t see others complaining because we aren’t whiney punks such as yourself.

    • RoHa on January 31, 2019, 7:37 pm

      I haven’t kept track of how many of my comments are banned by the mods, but quite a few are. It’s often some of my best work, too, with rigorous reasoning, elegant prose, and impeccable punctuation.

      The mods seem to be deficient in logic and lacking in literary taste.

      • Talkback on February 1, 2019, 5:34 am

        Jackdaw: “I don’t recall seeing any other commentor complaining about half their comments not being posted.”

        The real question is: Why do they publish the other half?

  5. echinococcus on January 30, 2019, 2:11 am

    Back to the “actual issue”, the Zionist Jack*$$ on duty is saying that collective torture of an entire population on their own soil, by thieving foreign invaders, is a non-story that doesn’t deserve mentioning.

  6. Jackdaw on January 30, 2019, 1:25 pm

    Israel is neither Arab nor Muslim soil.

    • eljay on January 30, 2019, 1:56 pm

      || Jackdaw: Israel is neither Arab nor Muslim soil. ||

      You’re right: It’s Israeli soil, not Jewish soil.

      • Jackdaw on January 31, 2019, 12:37 am

        That’s right. Israeli soil, and Israel is the Jewish State.

      • eljay on January 31, 2019, 8:26 am

        || Jackdaw: That’s right. Israeli soil, and Israel is the Jewish State. ||

        It’s amazing how infatuated you are with your preferred brand of evil (Jewish supremacism).

        The soil of Israel belongs to all Israelis – that is, to all people living in and up to n-generations removed from Israel.

        It does not belong to people all over the world – citizens of homelands all over the world – who have chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish.

      • oldgeezer on January 31, 2019, 8:38 am


        Israel is a state. You can call it the Jewish state if you like but it’s nothing special. Just a state. Just a state that has perpetrated 70 years of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It should be dealt with the same way any other state in that category is dealt with.

    • Talkback on January 31, 2019, 6:30 am

      Jackdaw: “Israel is neither Arab nor Muslim soil.”

      Yep. It has been Palestinian soil since the 1920s.

  7. Jackdaw on February 1, 2019, 12:43 am

    Palestinian soil for 26 years only (1922-1948). And BTW, the name of the state to which you were referring, on it’s coinage is known as Palestine-Filistina-Eretz Yisroel.

    For five hundred years before that is was just Ottoman dirt, same as what stretched from Tripolitania to Basra.

Leave a Reply