A relatively calm morning.
05.15 When we approached the Palestinian side on foot, the lines were already extending out of the hut. 5 checking stations are open and when the turnstiles open, the lines shorten considerably. We notice a change – the entrances to the cages have all been moved to the left. As a result, the cage closest to the cubicle where the soldier sits is now bordered on its left, by a fence which surrounds ‘our forces’ . this fence is a bit shorter than the cages, so that in fact the end of this queue is fenced only on side. This leads to trouble when the line collapses and there is a scramble. It is unclear why there is this change. But there is one good by-product: Because the passage is now in cages which were previously closed, these have now been opened and cleaned!! Before, there were piles of dirt.
In honour of Ramadan ,there is also a commercial innovation – Inside the hut there is a shopping counter with toys, at present covered with carton because of the early hour. One of the kiosk owners sits on a chair and among the kiosks outside at the entrance one or two are sleeping on mattresses. We went outside to see the place where worshippers enter on Friday, which today is inactive. The parking lot is blocked and empty.
When we returned the policeman who had been there, left. Then a policewoman arrived with a security guard. The DCO officer arrived early today, before 6 a.m. As the lines were short, we wondered if she would open the humanitarian gate early. Just then a woman approached with a baby in her arms and the DCO officer opened it for her. During our stay, the lines got longer and shorter at times, but order was kept and the humanitarian gate opened from time to time. A few security guards came. At one stage the policewoman and one of the guards went to checking station no.5 and we heard a baby’s crying from there. They apparently went to help the mother pass quickly with her baby, because the crying stopped and shortly afterwards the policewoman and guard returned.
At 6.37 we joined the queue. The woman soldier in the checking station was surprised to see us and pressed an emergency button, presumably to call for help, but our Machsomwatch symbol calmed her and no particular delay occurred. By 7 we were already outside.