Virginia Syvan, Ina Friedman (reporting)

Infant waited half an hour for the Humanitarian Gate to open

Once again, only four of the five checking stations were open when we arrived at 5:30 in the morning and the lines reached halfway to the road in the narrow corridor created by tin walls outside. The progress forward into the checking stations was – almost as usual at this time of the morning – very slow. And the soldier in the booth responsible for opening the turnstiles at the end of each of the three “cages” – between naps from which he was awoken by loud calls from the people waiting in line or by us rapping on the bars with a coin – wisely allowed many, many people through each time he opened the turnstiles, so that lines remained relatively short through the end of his shift at 6:15. And they remained so through the shift of his successor because of his strategy on opening the turnstiles, as well as the fact that the pace of work in the checking stations improved and station number 5 opened up sometime after 6:00.

In contrast, the main issue this morning was with the Humanitarian Gate, which was not opened until 6:33, despite the fact that we twice called the DCO hotline to report that infants (the first of whom arrived at 6:05) on their way to the hospital were waiting at the gate. By the time the DCO soldier and a security guard arrived at 6:33, most of the people, having waited at least 20+ minutes, had despaired of them ever arriving , joined the lines going through the cages, only to rush back to the gate when they finally did show up. We have no complaints against the soldier or the security guard, who arrive at the checkpoint from elsewhere. However, we can’t understand why they are not dispatched from their earlier when we know that people on their way to hospitals, schools, etc. start lining up at the Humanitarian Gate at 6:00.

At 6:45, when the cages were half empty, we joined the shortest of the lines through them and were through the security check in less than 10 minutes. As we stood in the cage, the DCO soldier and security guard approached us to ask who we were (it seems they had never heard of MachsomWatch) and invited us, as women, to take advantage of the Humanitarian Gate.  But when we explained to them that our passage through the cages is deliberate, they nodded and walked away.