Virginia Syvan, Ina Friedman (reporting)

Cold and Brief Morning 

All five checking stations appear open when we arrive at 5:30 a.m. but upon further observation #3 has come to a temporary halt and then #4 allows people through via a gate, rather than the turnstile – with no apparent problem, incidentally. The lines reach to the edge of the sidewalk outside. It appears, throughout the morning, that fewer people than usual have come out to fight the cold today.

The bagel man, whom we ask about the situation on previous days, reminds us how we, too, have become inured to what we see at Qalandiya. When he asks us what we have to say about the lines this morning, and we reply that we have seen far worse, he scolds us for our complacency. And we deserve it! It’s as though if people have to stand in the cold only 30 minutes, rather than an hour, it’s a “good day.” After something of a hiatus, we have requests to take guests with us on an upcoming shift, and it’s important for us to see things through not-yet-calloused eyes.

At 6:10 a DCO officer arrives, opens the Humanitarian Gate, and opens it again for each individual who reaches it.  All we can says is: Way to go! We wish everyone shared his understanding of how to operate the gate. At 6:50, when the lines through the cages are contained within the shed, the Humanitarian Gate is closed.

At 6:55, when the cages empty with each opening of the turnstiles, we get on line and exit the checkpoint in 15 minutes.