A morning that started calmly; the pressure grew, but remained orderly.
We arrived at 5.15 and passed on foot to the Palestinian side. We are pleasantly surprised by the absence of queues. The turnstile closest to the cubicle where the soldier operating the turnstiles sits, is open and everyone arriving passes through at once. All 5 checking stations are open and have very short waiting lines. Later the soldier closed the turnstile now and again but long lines did not form. When there was a line, women were allowed in from the side, though they usually simply waited in line. It took 15 minutes to pass.
As time passed, more people came and lines formed in all three cages, but here, too, they were very short. A few minutes before 6.00, a D.C.O. officer arrived. At this stage he was alone with the soldier operating the turnstiles, but because of the light traffic decided not to open the humanitarian gate. Later more people began arriving and the lines lengthened. A new soldier seemed to be less experienced and sometimes opened only the two nearest turnstiles. People in line in the third cage began shouting, and we were afraid that the lines would collapse. Fortunately the soldier heard the shoults (for a change) and all three turnstiles were opened. The humanitarian gate was not opened even when the lines got longer.
We went outside to buy tea. We noticed that there were no posters informing that the parking lot would be closed during Ramadan. Perhaps this year it will be open on weekdays? We chatted with 2 young men. They usually arrive at 11 or 12, they say, and then there are queues and problems. We tell them that this morning is relatively quiet. One tells us that he works on three jobs – “in transport, in security, and in a restaurant.” We said goodbye to the kiosk man and the beigel and cake sellers, who will not be here during Ramadan.
When we got back there was already a policeman inside. Afterwards there were the policeman, a policewoman and three security men. The lines were long, but orderly. Although there were women and elderly people, the officer decided not to open the humanitarian gate, and they were sent to the normal queue.
We joined one of the lines at 6.40 and it took us about 20 minutes to pass. We met S., a woman we know. We advised her to go in front of us because sometimes the soldiers delay us. She passed and then we thought to do so, but were called back by a soldier in Arabic. But then one of the security men by chance came by and signaled to him by hand to let us through.