05.15. Dark and cold, relatively few people on the Israeli side.
When we entered we faced long queues stretching far out of the shed. Apparently only 4 checking stations were open – station no.5 was closed. The beigel seller and the (new) cake seller were present.
The soldier in the aquarium waited until the lines at each checking station were practically ended before opening the turnstiles for a new group of people. This would usually happen only after the people in line would start shouting. At least he did allow in a large number of people each time, and passage at the checking stations seemed to go swiftly. As women arrived they were allowed to fit in at the entrance to the leftmost sleeve – this happens when there is relative calm.
Our friend H. told us about the groups who visit the bakery where he works in Mahane Yehuda, to see the ‘antique’ oven. Among them are groups of soldiers. As he speaks fluent Hebrew they do not realise that he is from the W.Bank. He showed us pictures of soldiers being photographed with him. He says his son also arrives every day to the checkpoint. They do not travel in the same taxi, though, because his son smokes and he doesn’t.
At a certain point and for some unclear reason, there was suddenly pressure at the entrance to the left sleeve, and the lines collapsed. Luckily, it took ‘only’ half an hour for them to re-form. After the soldier in the aquarium was relieved by another the turnstiles opened sparingly, until a guard and policeman arrived and gave instructions to open them and allow more people in.
Only at 6.20 did a D.C.O. soldier arrive, who opened the Humanitarian Gate, with the help of guards and the policeman. Now checking station no.5 also opened. We went outside to inspect. There seemed to be no progress on the building project. We bought tea at the modest kiosk which had by then opened.
A short while after the queues re-formed, they also became very short and we joined one at about 7 o’clock. We waited about 15 minutes for turnstiles to open and, when they did, we saw that the humanitarian gate had closed as there was no longer need. By the time the turnstiles were next opened there were no longer queues, and so they were left open.
It took us half an hour to pass to the Israel side.