IN PHOTOS: Palestinians endure checkpoints to enter Jerusalem during Ramadan

Published on 13 August 2012

During the holy month of Ramadan, West Bank identity card holders except for “dangerous populations” - women and men between the age of 12 and 40 - are allowed to enter Jerusalem for the day in order to pray at the al Aqsa Mosque. 



Soldiers check women’s IDs at Qalandia checkpoint, Ramallah, on Friday 10 August 2012 (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 



Woman pauses before entering the checkpoint on her way to Jerusalem (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 

On every other day of the year, West Bank identity carrying Palestinians are barred from entering occupied Jerusalem. Thousands arrive early on the Fridays of Ramadan in order to have time to enter and return before sunset, when Muslims break their fast.


Men wait for the Qalandia checkpoint to open (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 

People begin arriving at 5 in the morning.


There is no road to the men’s checkpoint entrance (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 

At Qalandia checkpoint, which is located near Ramallah and north of Jerusalem, the process begins by separating the men and women. Israel considers Palestinian women to be less threatening than the men. In correlation, the checkpoint crossing is relatively short and takes as little as 15 minutes, including a bag search. 


Women entering Qalandia checkpoint (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 

Men and boys undergo a much longer process. Early in the morning the average time to cross was one hour. 


Men walk by the word “Jerusalem” in Arabic (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 

After passing through a first screening, men wait in long lines before they can enter the main checkpoint facility. A tin roof shades them from the impending day’s heat. The men are packed into narrow caged corridors as they wait for their turn to pass through a single turnstile. The turnstile is controlled and only opens to let people through for a few seconds at a time.


Four cages feed into a single turnstile ‘entrance’ to the checkpoint (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 

Afterwards, men enter another set of cages and turnstiles leading them to a final screening. Soldiers behind bulletproof glass shout orders in Hebrew. The voice is harsh on the highly amplified speaker and is interspersed with badly pronounced Arabic commands: “Stop”,  “Come here” or “Papers!”


A long wait (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 

Many men are turned back for incorrect papers or identification. 


Cages (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 

After passing through a metal detector and x-ray scan men exit the Qalandia checkpoint with a few hours of access to Jerusalem. In expectation of the day’s crowds dozens of buses await the travelers.





Women wait for the men to exit the checkpoint in the shade of a watchtower (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC)

Muslims arrive to Jerusalem from all directions for the opportunity to pray at al Aqsa Mosque. 


On their way to the Old City, Muslims fill the streets (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 


Visitors descend the stairs leading to Damascus Gate (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC)

In the Old City the narrow streets become almost as packed as the checkpoint. However, the mood is peaceful and festive. A calm busyness falls over the Old City as the call to prayer sounds.


Muslims gather in order to enter the Temple Mount (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 


Floral decorations for Ramadan crisscross the streets (Photo: Thayer Hastings, AIC) 


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