(Chana Stein (translating), Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting

05.15. We parked on the Israeli side, where there were already many people waiting for their transport. On the Palestinian side there were already long lines extending beyond the shed. Only 4 of the 5 checking stations were open.  The kiosk was open and the beigel seller was at his post. At one point the soldier inside his cubicle peeped outside, but could not explain why the fifth station was not open, nor did a phone-call to headquarters help. Soon after 5.30 a policeman arrived.  According to him the fifth station had not opened because of a shortage of soldiers.  At about 5.40 it finally opened.  And then the policeman surprised us by calling to the women in the queues and opened the humanitarian gate for them.

Soon after 6 a.m. the D.C.O. officer arrived with a security guard.  She now opened the gate for “permitted” men as well. She was polite but firm, not allowing anyone through who was not entitled – for instance, an elderly couple who were on their way to the hospital had to wait until 8 o’clock.

When we went out to buy a cup of tea, we found a new man working there. He said the brothers Iman and Muhammad no longer work there. Why, we don’t know.  He worked alone and because of the crowds in the queues he could not go through to fetch water to fill his boiler. Finally someone in the line offered to go and fetch him water in plastic bottles.

Older people who go to work and are allowed to work without a permit complained to us that they are not allowed to pass through early in the morning. One claimed that at other checkpoints (Bethlehem, Eyal), this is allowed.  We asked the policeman about this. According to him, this place is not organized to allow so many people to pass at peak hours and so the early hours are designated for permit-holders. If they allowed these older workers also to come so early the pressure would be even greater….

At about 7 a.m., when the pressure lessened and the queues were shorter (i.e, were now within the shed), we joined one of the lines. Although the lines were now shorter, the D.C.O. officer continued to open the humanitarian gate.  At this point there was also a policewoman on duty. And in spite of the reduced pressure, it still took us 25 minutes to pass.