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Chana Stein (translating), Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting)

05.15 The lines were already long, reaching the parking lot. 5 checking stations were open. The kiosk was open, and the beigel seller was present. Within a few minutes the queues collapsed and a pile of people clambered at the entrance to the sleeves. Immediately the whole shed was full of people who had retreated from the struggle, and the benches were filled by those who didn’t want to endanger themselves in the pushing and squeezing which, it was now clear, would not end soon.

This terrible situation continued for 2 hours! During the morning, representatives of our ‘forces’ began to arrive – a policeman and policewoman, guards. They were preceded, a little after 6 a.m., by a soldier and officer of the D.C.O.  Many people were waiting for them at the humanitarian gate.  When the situation is so bad at the regular lines, many people try their luck at the humanitarian gate.  But the checking there is generally strict, and only those truly entitled are admitted.  Those who were admitted first were held in the section before the second turnstile.  The policewoman and guard went there and opened the gate next to the turnstile and directed the people from there to the checking stations. Only later in the morning did they operate the turnstile.

A young man approached the humanitarian gate.  He needs to reach the American consulate, but they don’t let him pass.  When the pressure at the gate lessens, he talks to the officer who is prepared to admit him.  But the guard standing next to the gate inside, asks him where he is going and sends him back.  The policeman passes judgement:  consulate in the regular queue! [The appointment was for 10 a.m., so in the end the young man will have managed to reach there in time (C.S.)].

At one point someone turned to us angrily: “How do you help? Someone is dying there!” Beyond the fences, we saw people gathering after the turnstiles. We went around to see what was happening.  Immediately beyond the turnstiles, in the area before the checking stations (before entering the lane leading to them) we saw a man lying on the ground with a few men trying to help him. We phoned the office to report.  The soldier who answered was more anxious to know if our forces were alert to what was happening or why not, and his tone was aggressive. We couldn’t convince him that the immediate priority was to send medical help. Fortunately, the youth recovered.  With his friends’ help he got up and, supported by them, reached the checking stations.

During the morning we went outside a few times, to buy tea and to catch a bit of sun in this cold morning. In the parking lot area were groups of people waiting for the pressure inside to lessen and for the lines to re-form.  This happened only at about 7.45, very late. At 7.55 we joined one of the lines which had by now got much shorter.  At this stage the D.C.O. staff allowed through the humanitarian gate those without permits, closed the gate, and departed.

It took us 30 minutes to go through to the Israeli side where we had parked.