The lines did not extend beyond the entrance to the shed when we arrived at 5:15 a.m., and the situation remained that way, more or less, throughout the shift. All five checking stations were open; the turnstile at the end of the right-side cage had been repaired, so that three lines advanced forward each time the turnstiles were opened. Also, the entrance to the parking lot was still blocked, and we saw no other change there from the previous week.
Since the start of Ramadan, we’ve had the impression – judging by the length of the lines – that fewer people are coming to the checkpoint during the rush hour. We have found no explanation for this. We’d like to report that the shorter lines reflect the fact is that the checkpoint is operating more efficiently, but unfortunately cannot report evidence to that effect either.
A DCO officer and two security guards arrived at 6:15 but the officer sent the young woman who had been waiting by the gate for about 5 minutes to one of the lines progressing through the cages. Some five minutes afterward, when a number of people had gathered by the gate (and had not been sent to the standard lines), the officer opened the gate for them, and one of the security guards called and motioned to the young women who had earlier been sent away to return and avail herself of the gate. We should add that after no few years observing at Qalandia, we have yet to understand the protocol for operating the Humanitarian Gate. Yet perhaps that is the intent: Just as all those who arrive at the checkpoint during the rush hour have no idea what awaits them from day to day, from the standpoint of how much time they will spend there, so at the Humanitarian Gate no one knows from one day to the next when the gate will open, when it will close, and when the soldier or officer in charge of the gate will allow those entitled to use the it to pass through it and when he will send them away. In any case, this morning the gate was opened at 6:25 (ten minutes after the officer arrived) and he left 15 minutes later.
At 7:05, by which time the cages were emptying each time the turnstiles were opened, we joined one of the lines and completed the security check a quarter of an hour later.