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Chana S. and Ronit D. (reporting); Translator: Louise L.

A busy morning


We reach the checkpoint at about 5:15 after parking on the Israeli side, but so far there are lines only in the covered area. The 5 check posts are already open and people are crossing at a reasonable pace. A policeman is already in the aquarium together with the soldier on duty. The parking is open. Since it's still Ramadan, no beigel and cake vendors have arrived and the coffee stall is closed. People don't smoke and don't carry any bags since there is no need for food during the day. On the side we see heaps of empty boxes, so it seems that people buy food in the evenings and at night. As usual, only the women's toilets are open. They stink. Since there's no alternative everybody uses them.

Some women approach the entrance to the fenced-off areas and the men let them join the line. H.' whom we know and whom we haven't seen for a long time, arrives telling us that today the situation is not too bad, but that the last few days were quite a mess. He wonders how Ronny P. is. He hasn't seen her this week. He says that many permits were issued because of the Ramadan and perhaps that's why there has been such pressure at the crossing. Now it's towards the end of the holiday and less people arrive. We hear a female soldier at one of the check posts explaining to an old man that he can't enter before 8 o'clock. For a change she's friendly and speaking quietly. Her friend at the nearby check post keeps shouting incomprehensible instructions through the loudspeaker.

A woman with a covered face asks about the humanitarian gate. We explain that it will open only towards 6 o'clock and that she'll be able to enter from the side, but she prefers to wait. Meanwhile, some more women arrive. They are in their fifties and want to enter without permits. They are told that they will be let through only at 8 o'clock. They walk over to the benches to sit down. Other women are waiting in the regular lines which are moving forwards at a reasonable pace. In the meantime, an additional policeman and some security guards have arrived.

Soon after 6, policeman M, and one of the security guards open the humanitarian gate. People with permits are crossing. Those who are above age or with permits because of the Ramadan have to wait until 8 o'clock. The regular lines are becoming longer. M. is friendly today. He explains that now they are letting the workers or the people on their way to the hospital through. After 8 'clock they will let visitors and prayers enter. He also opens the gate each time women or other people with permits arrive. Women whom he evidently knows or who are on their way to work  are let through without their permits being checked. At about 6:20 a DCO officer and a soldier arrive. The humanitarian gate is opened. Soon after M. leaves and only one policeman remains. Men and women are sitting on the benches waiting to cross after 8 o'clock. The regular lines are getting shorter. At 6:45 an additional policewoman arrives.

At about 7 o'clock we join one of the lines. A man named Nasser asks about our friends Tamar and Phyllis. He says he hasn't seen them for a long time. Evidently, their shifts during the Ramadan are on Friday mornings. A young woman who has been asked to wait until 8 o'clock keeps returning asking the policeman and the officer to let her through. They refuse. After we reach the fenced-off area we see how the policeman takes her permit and tears it into pieces. That's what happe4ns to a woman who doesn't have the patience to wait…the shocked woman has no choice but to accept the fact that she won't be able to cross so she leaves the checkpoint.

When it's our turn to cross, the female soldier at the check post doesn't understand what we're doing there and doesn't quite know what to do. Luckily, the policewoman enters the check post and she tells the soldier to let us through.