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Virginia S., Ina F. (reporting)

An incomprehensible decision

When we arrived at 5.00 all five security check posts were open and people who arrived at the barrier immediately passed straight through one of the enclosures to the checking sleeves. The soldier in the aquarium informed us from time to time what sleeves were vacant, usually 4 and 5, to which we should go.


Queues began to form at 5.30 in two of the three enclosures. For some reason nobody entered the third enclosure.  When we went to check whether the passage was blocked because of a damaged turnstill (a chronic default in this enclosure in the past) we did not find it blocked, but two men standing near the turnstill in that enclosure, waiting for it to open, reported that it did not open. We called the soldier on duty, who had left the aquarium for a minute, and asked her whether the turnstill in the third passage was  working or not, and she said that it was not working. We reported to the men standing in the enclosure, and they left it and joined another queue. A minute later the turnstill began to work. Apparently no one had pressed the button before.


Of course we were scolded by some of the men who had to change queues because we reported that the turnstill was out of order, but the real complaint concerns the nonchalant way that wrong information is given (in a less polite language it  was "why are the soldiers lying?") and following this question there comes a long list of old well known complaints about the disgraceful lack of respect towards the Palestinians crossing the barrier on a daily basis. Then comes the eternal question: "You have been standing here for years, has anything changed because you are here?" We asked the man who said this (who knows us from previous conversations) if he prefers that we shouldn`t come to the barrier. He retreated looking rather ashamed as he did not want to offend us. We told him that in spite of our efforts, it is not easy for us to change the system that obliges us to stand here every morning on our way to work, but at least we can come to be there with him and he accepts this graciously.


The non-commissioned officer (?) of the District Command came to open the humanitarian gate at 6.10 and returned whenever a group of people assembled near it, but when women (especially) entered the barrier and did not see people near the humanitarian gate, they preferred to take a chance that could enable them to  arrive at their destination earlier if they crossed through the enclosures.


This is a game of roulette, mainly on the part of the women, repeated every morning. Some of them find that they are caught between the grates of the enclosures when the humanitarian gate is opened, and others, standing near the humanitarian gate, realize, to their regret, that they would have passed more quickly if they had joined the people crossing through the enclosures. We saw a woman carrying a tiny babyinfo-icon in her left arm, holding the hand of a three- year- old in her right hand, and was having difficulty crossing the turnstill in one unit. We wanted to explain that it would be easier for her to pass through the humanitarian gate, but by the time we reached her she was already deep inside the enclosure and unable to go back. Behind her, in the queue stood a young man holding the folded baby carriage, and after the woman and the children succeeded, with difficulty, to pass the turnstill, it shut just in front of him. We tend to think that this happened because somebody in the aquarium simply did not pay attention to what he was doing, but we also think that the Palestinian couple would not see it in the same way.


At 6.30, a delegation of policemen from the Border Guard arrived in  clean ironed uniforms and made a short tour of the humanitarian gate area. A few minutes later, after a group of men and women passed through this gate and stood in the sleeves in order to enter the check-in, the soldier from the District Command and the policeman on duty returned all the women through the humanitarian gate and sent them out of the roofed area of the barrier, in order to pass through another opening in the barrier wall "without checking". We went with them to check this new arrangement. It wasn`t exactly without checking because every one`s certificates were checked and the person who did the checking was one of the men from the Border Guard who had arrived a few minutes before. We understood that this track was prepared for Fridays during the Ramadan and one of the guards explained to us that it was a "special arrangement for the holidays"


Today was no holiday. We have no objection to the arrangement itself, but it would have been wiser to explain to the women at the entrance to the barrier, that there was another opening outside, especially for women. This would have saved time for them instead of returning them all the way from the entrance to the checking inside. When we left at 6.50 (there was still no notice or person at the entrance to the barrier in order to direct the women to this special barrier. In spite of the good intention to make things easier for the women, an absurd situation was created in this case.


The barrier is much dirtier than it usually is. See the attached photos showing the space between the enclosures.