Virginia Syvan, Ina Friedman (reporting)

First shift after Ramadan

Four of the five checking stations were open when we arrived at 5:30 a.m. but the lines were far shorter than we had anticipated (this was the second day of work after the end of Ramadan). As usual at that hour, progress forward was slow (it has a way of picking up during the course of the morning).  At one point after 6:00, when the sleeves leading into the checking stations were almost empty and the (newly arrived) soldier in charge of opening the turnstiles at the end of the cages was not opening them, by banging a coin on the bars we tried to get his attention. At the same time, people on line were shouting “Soldier!” for the same purpose. At first he didn’t respond at all. Ultimately, however, he opened the turnstiles and allowed all the people on line to go through at once, leaving  the cages empty and long lines entering the sleeves to the checking stations. Either he did not know how to close the turnstiles (could that be?) or he was annoyed by the attempts to prompt him to open them and solved his problem by letting everyone through. Either way, it then became easier to regulate the flow out of the cages.

A Civil Administration officer and civilian security guard opened the Humanitarian Gate at 6:15. Shortly thereafter, we received a call from the cancer patient we were to drive to Hadassah Hospital saying that he had come through the checkpoint by car and was waiting for us in the south parking lot. So we passed through the Humanitarian Gate and waited on line for a quarter of an hour before entering the checking station, leaving the checkpoint at 6:40 and reaching the hospital about half an hour later. The patient has since been turned over to the capable hands of Haderekh L’Hachlamah, an NGO of volunteers that specializes in driving Palestinian patients from checkpoints to Israeli hospitals.