Sansana, Mon 22.11.10, Morning

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Netanya G. Yehudit K. Mohammed

 We arrived at the checkpoint at 5a.m. finding it reasonably quiet and orderly - we even found a convenient parking spot. An orderly queue of men stood in the cages, and movement was slow but steady. Several people told us that Sunday was worse because there were more people and only one checking window open, as today. The man from the Falafel 'Hotel' told us his tent had been removed by Motti, the new manager of the terminal, who may return it on Thursday when he returns from holiday. (Details with Michal Tzadik).  From time to time we popped back to see what was happening at the entrance to the cages and soon saw that there was a line-up reaching almost to the entrance of the parking lot, maybe a thousand men standing there. Suddenly we heard a rustling sound and a cry and saw people being squashed flat together like a pack of cards. There was absolutely no room to move. One man tried to lift his lunch box above his head but couldn't because of the press, another had his face squashed against the wires and couldn't move. People cllimbed on heads, shoulders, treading anywhere and everywhere, pulling themselves up by the electric cables near the ceiling. And all the while cries of anger and panic and pain. It was a horrific free for all and a miracle that no-one was seriously hurt. Phone calls to Michal Tzadik and Hanna Barag resulted in a second window being opened and an easing of the crush.

At 7:00 we departed for the other side of the checkpoint in Netanya's car because she wasn't sure of the way. We sailed through without being asked for ID's, but Mohammed was stopped and the van was searched.

While we waited for him we met a security man and, after a brief introduction and some questions about the checkpoint's poorly condition, he informed us that he didn't understand 'people like us' and didn't know how he could possibly talk to us. With the memory of the stampede still fresh in our minds we told him that we actually didn't know how to talk to people like him and rolled up the window in his face and drove away with childish satisfaction at his bewildered expression!