'Anata, Qalandiya, Tue 14.6.11, Morning

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Rony P.,Avital T.,Ina F.(reporting)

Long lines extended into the sleeves when we arrived at 6:05 a.m. Standing on them, unusually, were also a number of women, while only one family (with an infant child, headed for the hospital) stood waiting by the Humanitarian Gate. When we saw no sign of the staff in charge of opening the Humanitarian Gate, we called the DCO and heard from a sleepy soldier, who declined to identify himself, that the Gate would not be opened before 8 a.m. (whereas it usually operates until 8 a.m.). We asked that a sign at least be posted on the gate informing people to this effect but saw no action in this direction during the half hour we were present.

Soon after we arrived, however, movement through the sleeves picked up pace, and the turnstiles were opened every 8-10 minutes, with some 50 people (in total) going through each time. One man we called later in the morning told us that it had taken him 20 minutes to traverse the checkpoint; another said 30 minutes. When we left Qalandia at 6:35, the sleeves were only half filled.

On our way to Anata, the commander of the DCO called to clarify what had prompted our earlier call to his office. We again requested that a sign be posted at the Gate explaining that it would not operate before 8 a.m. today.

We arrived at the Anata checkpoint before 7 a.m. to find that the flow of pedestrians (mostly children) and traffic was fluid. We were told by a Palestinian source there that yesterday a number of children from Shuafat had been arrested and interrogated on suspicion of throwing stones on Nakba Day; were brought before a judge; and were fined NIS 5,000 each. (The sister of one of these minors confirmed her brother's age as 11 and the amount of the fine demanded of their family.) We also again noted the disturbing absence of a crosswalk (and someone to enforce it) over the heavily trafficked road that children must cross on their way from the pedestrian passage through the checkpoint to the rented buses carrying them to school. We left Anata close to 8 a.m. as the last school buses were moving out.