05.15. A cold, drizzly morning, still dark when we arrived. On the Israeli side there were already many people waiting for transport. There was an ecumenical volunteer outside, as well as one inside the hut. There were long queues stretching beyond the hut itself. 5 checking stations were open; the kiosk was open and the beigel seller was there.
The soldier in the ‘aquarium’ kept opening only 2 of the 3 turnstiles, which of course angered those waiting in the third cage, and finally led to some of them breaking into the lines waiting for the first two turntiles causing chaos. A guard who arrived claime that the soldier was experienced and ‘knows what she is doing.’ In his view, this wasn’t chaos. (Later, on our way out, we saw hanging on the inner side of the third turnstile, a sign saying ‘Exit.’ Perhaps because of this the soldier didn’t open that turnstile as an entry?) The fact that there wasn’t total chaos, as sometimes happens, doesn’t justify this way of functioning. If they don’t intend to allow people to pass through a particular turnstile, they should bar the entrance to that cage and not let people wait inside only to find later that they won’t be allowed through.
At about 6 a.m. a policeman and policewoman arrived, and then they began letting people in the third cage to go through their turnstile – and luckily order quite quickly was restored. At one stage the policewoman and the guard went and brought back someone who had already gone through the turnstile, not clear why. the policeman took him out via the back exit (which shows that there is another possible exit). The lines were still very long, reaching the parking lot. Many people were already waiting at the Humanitarian gate which opened at 6.10. The D.C.O. officer greeted everyone politely. But even after going through the gate people had to wait until the second turnstile was opened, so it was 6.17 by the time the first people at the humanitarian gate reached the checking stations.
At about 7, when the lines were already much shorter, we joined one. It took 20 minutes to pass through. Meanwhile we saw that the D.C.O. officer close the gate and depart. The woman soldier in the checking station was surprised to see us but soldier next to her told her to let us go. She obviously didn’t like our presence and said roughly ‘go away.’ At least she didn’t say ‘kishta,’ as we heard her say to one of the Palestinians.