Virginia Syvan, R. and A. (guests from Ireland and the U.K.), Ina Friedman (reporting)

Eek, Rats!

Actually, we saw one rat.  But where there’s one there are others, and this one was seeking his prey by the Humanitarian Gate! We reported this finding to the Civil Administration officer when he arrived afterward, and he replied that he would pass on the information to the cleaning crew. The question is whether that will suffice or the services of an exterminator are required.

The  good news is that the Humanitarian Gate is back, complete with hinges. The Civil Administration officer arrived at 6:10, opened it at 6:20, and continued to do so each time a handful of people gathered by it.

All five checking stations were open when we arrived at 5:30. The lines were short (not extending beyond the kerb into the parking lot). Soon enough, however, we discovered that the turnstile at the end of the right-hand “cage” was not working.  Since we could not communicate with the soldier in the “Aquarium,”  we called the D.C.O. line and asked the soldier who answered to contact her colleague on the spot and tell him to announce from time to time that the turnstile there was broken – just as he announced from time to time that the x-ray machine in one of the checking stations was out of order and people carrying articles should not use that station -- so that newcomers would not fill the cage only to find they could not move forward. Until that message was conveyed – one time, only – we stood by the entrance to the cage to inform people of the situation. Not everyone believed us; some entered the cage anyway.  After the Civil Administration officer arrived, we asked him to tell the soldier in the Aquarium to repeat the announcement, but no announcement followed from this request.

We learned, however, that we did not give sufficient credit to resourcefulness of men determined to get to work on time. One of them, who entered the empty cage and found the turnstile closed, played with it, moving it back and forth, until he created a gap wide enough to squeeze his body through. And in his wake, others followed suit. 

Apropos announcements, due to the volume of the speaker system, it’s nigh impossible to make out what the soldier is saying. The shed of the Qalandiya checkpoint is hardly New York’s Grand Central Station, and it would be beneficial to lower the volume a number of decibels for the sake of getting the message across.

The lines remained relatively short throughout  the morning, and at 7:15 we joined one of them and exited the security check 20 minutes later.