Virginia Syvan, Sarah (from the Canadian Embassy), Ina Friedman (reporting)

A cold, wet, short morning

All five checking stations were operating when we arrived at 5:30 on this cold and wet morning. The lines via the cages were contained within the shed and were likewise short before the entrances to the checking stations themselves. The soldier on duty responsible for regulating the flow through the cages took care to erase the lines almost every time she opened the turnstiles. We had the distinct impression that, in addition to the intelligent management of the flow, fewer people than usual came to the pedestrian checkpoint today, perhaps because of the bad weather than only threatened to become worse. At all events, the lines remain contained within the shed throughout the morning.

We were glad to see that the piece of metal sticking up from the floor in the middle of the shed (the remains of a bench), which we reported on last week as a threat to life and limb, was removed!

A DCO officer entered the checkpoint to operate the Humanitarian Gate at 6:10, and when he saw that there was no demand for the gate, he left at 6:15. A few minutes later a couple entered with the wife carrying an infant in her arms. Fortunately, the DCO officer had left a key to the gate with one of the security guards (a very wise and laudable decision!), and the guard opened the gate for the couple. But when others who are eligible to use the Humanitarian Gate tried to follow them through, the security guard sent them back to the lines through the cages. A bit later, people who had just arrived at the checkpoint began gathering in front of the gate, and the same guard walked past them without relating to them at all. With a hand movement, we redirected the guard’s attention to the group waiting by the gate, and he walked back to inform them that the gate was closed and directed them to the lines through the cages. And what would have happened had we not been there to demand, as it were, that the guard do the minimum and relate to the people expecting to go through the gate so that they would not stand there wasting their time in vain?

When the cages were all but empty, at 6:45 we too went through one of them and exited the checkpoint a little over 10 minutes later. There was a short hold up because the soldiers in the checking station initially seemed puzzled by the diplomatic passport presented them by our guest, but they related to its holder courteously.