'Anata-Shu'afat, Hizma, Qalandiya, Tue 14.2.12, Morning

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Ina F., Nava J.E. (reporting)

... and even a golden cage remains a cage...

5:45: A cold morning, an empty CP. No one waiting on line for the turnstiles, two functioning checkposts with some 30 people waiting to be checked.
The fact that the CP was relatively empty at such an early (usually busy) hour surprised us. We inquired with the food-stall owner (coffee, cakes and pitas), whose business was affected by the sparsity of clients and the efficient passage. Not a special occasion he said, simply no queues. Messiah's days…
The ecumenical volunteer reported that she had arrived at the CP at 4:30am and then there were about 300 workmen waiting in front of the turnstiles but the pace of checking and passage was so fast that by 5:00 there was no one waiting at all. The many recent arrivals just passed through efficiently.

6:15: 360 persons were checked and allowed passage, 300 at any given moment. This indicates that the efficiency of passage depends on the ratio of the staff functioning at the checking booths from 4:00am, as compared to the number of arrivals. The 'humanitarian' gate is unattended though the officer is present. He instructed to allow passage there only for the disabled who could not get through the turnstiles.
The flow of passage is continuous and the people pass through constantly-green-lighted turnstiles. Most of the time, five checking-posts were functioning, though at times the Palestinians occupied lanes 1-3 and disregarded lanes 4-5.
Ina remarked that in January she had arrived at the CP with the British Minister of ME Affairs and the CP was miraculously empty – giving the false impression that everything was functioning so smoothly at the CPs.
Our ecumenical acquaintance told us of a similar experience when in February she arrived here with the Archbishop of Canterbury and passage seemed so smooth and efficient. (Is it possible that someone forewarns the authorities about VIP visits???)

6:45: We hadn't counted the number of people arriving at the CP during the past half hour, as they all had passed through quickly. School students have also been arriving in large numbers, also passing through efficiently with no delays during the checking process. We left in order to observe the passage of children at the Anata CP. We drove - not via the car barrier, though it seemed to be relatively free - but via Road 60 and Hizma.