Hannah S., Ronit D. (reporting) trans. Judith Green
When we arrived at the checkpoint, a little after 05:00, it was already dawn. We parked on the Israeli side and made our way by foot to the checkpoint. In the vehicle lane which leads towards Qalandiya, there was a Borderguard vehicle standing and blocking the passage and a triangle sign of a temporary checkpoint set up. What should someone do who wants to travel to Qalandiya or towards Ramallah? Not clear. By the way, when we left, the car was still there, but standing on the side, so the traffic was flowing to Qalandiya with no problem.
When we approached the checkpoint, people arriving opposite us gestured with their hands that it was crowded. We were greeted by lines when we entered, but not particularly long lines. A lot of people were waiting behind the "cages" and in front of the booths. It seemed that just now they had opened extra booths and were processing a lot of people. At booth #3 we saw the sign change from red (closed) to green (open), but people who were standing next the booths #4 and #5 became discouraged and moved to other lines. We contacted the DCO to ask them to open additional booths and they promised to take care of it. A few minutes later, nos. 4 and 5 opened, but it is doubtful that it was our phone call that prompted this.
People were waiting in 3 lines, in the "cages" and outside them. When the female soldier in the aquarium opened the turnstiles, only one of the three opened, which caused a lot of grumbling. People began to shout and whistle in order to get her attention that not all the turnstiles had opened. We also tried to catch her eye and communicate with her. Meanwhile, the lines spread as far as the parking lot. Suddenly, the soldier noticed what was going on and opened all 3 turnstiles. Later, she opened only the 2 which had been previously closed, so the lines became equal and shortened.
At about 5:30, the guard arrived and then the policeman. The bagel and cake sellers weren't there when we arrived and also the coffee stand was closed, even though Ramadan had not yet started. We went out to the parking lot and saw the the sign, announcing that the lot would be closed from 15.6 because of Ramadan, had disappeared (probably torn and fell) and we were pleased to see that the lot was open as usual. We didn't see any special preparations for Ramadan. The same cement barriers that have already been there for a year were in the same position. When we returned, the bagel seller had arrived. It turned out that some of the bakery workers thought that Ramadan had already started and so they hadn't arrived, so he had to wait until there was some merchandise ready. There were no falafel or hard boiled eggs today. Ramadan only starts tomorrow,Thursday. We went back inside, and then we saw that the coffee stand had also opened.
There were also a young man and a young woman here today from "Blue and White Human Rights". The woman went to check the status of the bathroom, something we do not do. No change - only the women's bathroom was open, but with no light and no running water. Meanwhile,the guard also arrived, a policeman and another soldier. After a while, some of them left and only 2 policemen and the female soldier were left in the aquarium.
At 5:45 the lines were shorter when they opened the turnstiles, and the loud speaker directed people to booth #5: "Open and Free". At about 6, a woman arrived and went to the Humanitarian Gate. She tried to ask the policeman if they would open the Gate, but didn't get an answer. When they opened the turnstiles, she went into the regular line, which is what all the women did who arrived this morning, and there were no problems. At a certain stage, we saw a woman in traditional clothing who was already next to the booths and asked the policeman for help. He checked something for her on his communications equipment. We didn't see what happened next, but she did not return to the shed, so probably her problem was solved.
At 6:05 everything was calm. The Humanitarian Gate did not open, but it wasn't needed. We joined the lines and the "Blue and White Human Rights" people came in after us. We chose a booth in which the soldiers had apparently taken a coffee break and the line didn't move. We moved to a different line and were out within 10 minutes.