05.30. An unusually late state start due to roadworks on Route 1, and already after daybreak. There were lines extending a bit out of the shed, but every time the turnstiles opened, they came within the shed. All 5 checking stations were open.
We were surprised to find the tea kiosk had disappeared. The beigel seller was surprised, too. He said that yesterday it was still there.
Later we found it abandoned at the end of the parking lot. [Now we know that there is about to be building done in its usual spot, to enlarge the checkpoint. Meanwhile there is another family about to lose its source of income.]
Inside the shed it is relatively clean, though the number of benches decreases. Of the few that remain, one is already broken and lying on its side.
As the queues were short, women arriving could easily slip in from the side. Also sick people who approached the humanitarian gate were invited to fit into the regular line.
But we were told by our friend H. that previous days had been hard and that yesterday the lines collapsed. The pressure was such that he was wounded in his rib area, he has difficulty breathing and is afraid that he has a broken rib. We advised him to have it checked as it should be a work accident. He asked his employer, but how could he prove that he was hurt on the way to work and not at home?
He also complains that people speak to him rudely at his workplace, a bakery in the market. A tour guide brings her group to see their ancient oven. While she was speaking to him, a woman passing by scolded her for fraternizing with an Arab! On another occasion, someone complained that he was giving instructions to another worker – why should a Jew obey instructions from an Arab! ‘But I have been working there 30 years and he is new,’ says H., deeply insulted. H. is usually optimistic and smiling, speaking fluent Hebrew – but today he is despondent. He hurts – physically and emotionally. He says he is considering stopping to go out to work in Israel. We felt his hurt – and were ashamed….
At about 6 o’clock two guards arrived followed by a D.C.O. soldier. With their help he opened the humanitarian gate, which helped the regular lines which were anyway short. We left at 6.30, this time through the humanitarian gate so as to photograph the poppies that were flowering beyond the fence. A guard was alarmed, but relaxed when we assured him we were filming only flowers. He didn’t know what had happened to the kiosk.
Passage was quick, and thanks to the early hour, we reach city centre before the traffic jams.