We arrived at 5:00, and on the Israeli side we already met an acquaintance who told us that yesterday it was terrible. Pushing and shouting. (the picture is clear) in his opinion the laborers shouldn't come to blows, be irritated and create havoc – they should listen to the soldiers, stand quietly and wait.
We crossed over to the Israeli side. The soldiers in sleeve 1 seemed alert and efficient.
All five checking posts were active and many people were just then entering from the enclosures. There was hardly no queue in the shed.
We met two EAPPI women with a German reporter woman who lives in Israel and writes for a catholic newspaper.
We were surprised to see about 15 girls and boys who were standing next to the humanitarian passage with suitcases on their way to Japan! The head of the group talked to the soldier in the aquarium and on the phone with the DCO (probably). He claimed that the passage through the humanitarian gate was coordinated beforehand (they all have big suitcases). The soldier was very polite, tried to help and said that soon somebody would arrive to open the gate. After a few minutes they began to walk in the direction of the vehicle crossing. The head of the group was on the phone with a representative of the DCO (?) who explained to him by what way they could pass. He asked her to inform the soldier that they were coming "so that they shouldn't shoot at us". Perhaps a bit exaggerated, but this harassment with the suitcases at this hour is definitely not pleasant. We told ourselves that this is only the beginning, and what more is waiting for them at the Ben Gurion airport… (or perhaps after all they fly from Amman?)
The soldier in the aquarium announced that he was opening (maftuh) , let many people pass and the queue disappeared.
At 5:30 a policeman arrived.
We went to talk with the soldier and to tell him "well done": first because he announced that he was opening the gate, and then on the number of people he lets pass, and also on the way he dealt with the group of children. He is a young soldier, and still full of good will. We told him we wished that he should continue thus, and that nobody would succeed in spoiling him. He said that he already recognized the faces of some of the people – how sad that this is so rare, a soldier looking at the people who pass by the CP and sees people.
The queues arrived at the end of the shed and became shorter until they reached the enclosures, each time he opened the turnstiles.
Around 6:00 the shift changed and a girl soldier arrived in his stead. The efficiency dropped considerably. The DCO soldier who was supposed to arrive in order to open the humanitarian gate was nowhere to be seen. The policeman too was changed.
There was really no need to open the humanitarian gate, but the queues became longer, perhaps because the efficiency at the sleeves themselves dropped and therefore it took more time to pass.
Women and elderly people who came to check whether it was possible to pass at the humanitarian gate went back and stood in line with everybody else. We phoned three times between 6:00 and 7:00 to ask what was happening regarding the humanitarian gate. At the third time they disclosed to us that the soldier just didn't wake up and that he would arrive soon. He didn't arrive after 7:00 as well.
To our joy (and amazement too) in two cases where 2 men with disabilities arrived, and we managed to draw the attention of the policeman – he came to open the humanitarian gate. It transpired that he has a key. This was a surprising revelation. Immediately other people joined in and asked to pass by the humanitarian gate too – they were driven away resolutely. However, those who really7 needed to pass did pass. This is a consolation on such a morning.
Between 6:00 and 7:00 there were all the time queues that reached the end of the shed. We missed the efficient soldier from the morning.
At 7:00 we joined the queue.
After waiting a considerable time, we reached sleeve 5. And there everything worked sluggishly. Even when there were no people left to present papers and be x-ray examined, the soldiers didn't open and didn't let other people enter. Perhaps they again went for a break? No! they just play with their phone and talk. When we shouted repeatedly ( only the two of us, the laborers are afraid to shout or too desperate) "excuse us, is it possible to open", the girl soldier replied that the gate was open and then she let slip: idio… (she didn't complete the word, she probably understood that she was overheard, but all of us understood what she meant.) And again, they let three pass and again a break. And again we shouted. So they opened. And when our turn arrived to pass – the soldier behind the glass (whom we barely saw because of the sun glare) stood up and shouted go back (it seems I whistled). He didn't explain. Just stood there and shouted.
We passed at 7:30. Sad and jumpy.