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Facebook group shares checkpoint wait in real time

Thousands of Palestinians are using Facebook to share traffic updates to help each other avoid spending hours every day waiting to drive through Israeli checkpoints.
Palestinian women present their identity cards to an Israeli border police officer as they wait to make their way to Jerusalem to attend the first Friday prayer of Ramadan in al-Aqsa mosque, at Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah July 4, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) - RTR3X1SO
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The first thing that Tanya George does when she wakes up in her Ramallah home is to check the Facebook group “Status of the Road, Qalandia and Hizma.” She scrolls to the latest entry checks and reads the status of Palestine’s worst checkpoint. If it is crowded, she would take the longer road to her job in East Jerusalem, where she works to support underprivileged students, rather than risk waiting in line for hours, or might decide to do some work at home and leave for the office later.

For most Palestinians, the Qalandia checkpoint is the nearest crossing point from downtown Ramallah to downtown East Jerusalem. Individuals working for international organizations can use a special checkpoint north of al-Bireh, referred to as the DCO checkpoint. A third option is the Hizma checkpoint. The last two are farther away than Qalandia, but faster to get through if Qalandia is backed up. Qalandia also connects Ramallah to Bethlehem via the alternative Wadi al-Nar Road.

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