We arrived around 05:15. Even though Ramadan had already ended the parking lot is still blocked; it’s not clear why. That makes some people get off beyond the plaza, run across it and expose themselves to the highway’s dangers. Others get off the minibuses that stop at the entrance to the blocked parking area, thereby blocking traffic on the highway. We proceeded a little farther and parked in the pay-parking lot behind the fruit and vegetable stand. We asked how things are; the parking lot attendant who emerged from a nearby vehicle to collect our payment said, “OK.” We walked to the checkpoint from the side.
As we approached the checkpoint we saw the lines already spilling into the parking lot which was empty of vehicles. People stood waiting quietly in three long, orderly lines. The coffee stand has reopened after Ramadan ended; the bagel and pastry sellers have also returned. Everything looked normal here. People on their way to work, looking as if they want to cross as quickly as possible with no unnecessary problems.
Only three booths were open when we arrived. A policewoman was already on site, in addition to the female soldier on her shift in the “aquarium.” At 05:25 they announced that booths 4 and 5 were also open, and let more people through. Today the booths began letting people through immediately. But as we know, it’s too late. It will take another hour to get rid of the lines because more people keep arriving.
Towards 06:00 a man approached us whose permit had been confiscated. They had told him to go to the DCL. The DCL opens only at 08:30. He asks whether we can help him find out from the policewoman what the problem is. We advised him to wait for the DCL soldier who opens the humanitarian gate, and ask him. He did so, after the soldier had let people through the humanitarian gate. The soldier took his ID, talked to someone on the phone, but the outcome didn’t change. He has to wait for the DCL to open. Meanwhile, he told us that his son had recently been caught without a permit. He was arrested and jailed for two days. When he was released he was sent to the Etzion DCL to have returned his ID, his magnetic card and the money confiscated when he was arrested. At the DCL he was told he had to wait a month and a half to receive them. Now all he has is a piece of paper confirming they had been taken from him. Another form of harassment. We gave him contact information for Sylvia and Chaya, hoping they could help him and/or his son.
At about 06:30 the lines began shortening, reaching only to the shed, and then only to the cages. We left at 06:40.
We drove through A-Ram and Hizma today also, entering Jerusalem through Pisgat Ze’ev. This time, after turning right toward Jerusalem, there was a long line of cars and it took a while to reach the checkpoint. The crossing itself was smooth, and beyond the checkpoint traffic was sparse and we quickly reached the center of town.