A busy morning but relatively reasonable. The Humanitarian Gate was opened but it was operated by a soldier who didn’t know the rules and the checkpoint was closed too early.
5:15 it is still dark and cold. People who had already passed the checkpoint are sitting around a fire waiting for transportation to work. Many vehicles, most of them public transportation from East Jerusalem. Individuals and groups are saying the Morning Prayer near the entrance to the checkpoint. Inside all five windows are operating despite the illuminated sign above that has an X in red light. 3 lines are arranged till the edge of the shed. The vendors of pretzels and cakes (inside) and coffee (outside) are already here. Here, too, there are people who pray and join the line by the end of the prayer. They allowed women to integrate into the line at the entrance into the paddocks.
5:45 a policewoman and a policeman joined the woman-soldier in the aquarium. Now all windows have illuminated signs with a V in green. The lines get longer and reach the parking lot but order is kept. H. our acquaintance comes over to talk with us. He says that yesterday again the lines were very messy. He works in a bakery in the Mahane Yehuda Market, using an ancient oven - a tourist attraction. Some shoppers began returning to the market as well as a few tourists’ groups, but the situation is still far from normal and everywhere around there are lots of security forces. He had a long conversation with the commander of the border police in the market (a Druze), who came to the bakery, was honored with pita and Zaatar, and was surprised to hear that H. resides in the occupied territories. Immediately after he left two policewomen arrived and checked his documents. The Druze commander came back and advised him to keep a low profile in these days and to avoid talking too much… H. a good conversationalist, knowledgeable about the Israeli way of life and speaks fluent Hebrew, explained to him that he is a veteran in the market for 30 years now and everybody knows him.
6:15 a soldier arrived with a key to the Humanitarian Gate (in our previous shifts people preferred to wait at the regular lines since the order was maintained). The soldier is apparently new to the job and did not know who exactly could pass. Women with permits can pass here regardless of their destination (work or hospital). He sent some of them to the regular line, as well as other people with permits. Only after people protested and we turned to him too he consulted the policemen and let all the women pass. Adults who are allowed to pass without permits were required to wait till 8am. Another policeman, policewoman and two security guards arrived. The policewoman explained to the soldier who could pass through the Humanitarian Gate. It started to rain and the people waiting outside in the shed got wet, most of them did not have umbrellas.
6:40 - The lines shrunk till under the shed, the rain stopped, and we went outside for a tea break. When we returned the lines again went all the way into the parking lot and begun to dwindle only after seven. At around 7:15 we joined one of the queues. Despite the massive presence of security forces and a representative of DCL it was decided not to reopen the Humanitarian Gate. Just then a father arrived with three young children who pass every day on their own to school. They let him pass before us and we could see that they were very experienced: each one had in his school satchel his Israeli birth certificate clad in protective plastic and folded in a side pocket. The older one helped the younger children to lay their satchels inside the scanner and they showed their birth certificates. He put the umbrella in a plastic tray and invited me to put my purse in the tray... it took us about 25 minutes to pass.