A cold, crowded day, the litter on the Israel side has been cleared!
05.15. A full Tu-Bi-Shvat moon. Large groups of men at prayer both at the parking-lot, at the entrance to the checkpoint and Inside the shed. The lines are long. Some men go aside to pray and then re-join the line.
All 5 checking stations are open and speed is reasonable, quite big groups being admitted each opening of the turnstiles. Women were allowed to fit in at the entrance to one of the cages. Now and again there was pressure and protests when people tried to squeeze in from the side, and the lines threatened to collapse. This happened finally at about 7 o’clock, but within 20 minutes there were once again orderly lines.
A guard and D.C.O. officer arrived only towards 6.15, to open the humanitarian gate where many people were already gathered. We met a woman who told us that she has begun to teach at a school in east Jerusalem, after teaching in Ramallah. She has a permit from tomorrow, 1st February, but it is not yet valid. She can pass without a permit, but that would be only after o’clock. She tried in vain to persuade the soldier and guard to let her through earlier. Only at 7.50 did the soldier allow her through the gate so that, by the time she would reach the checking station, it would already be 8 o’clock…
It was very cold – and impossible to buy a cup of tea to warm up, as the kiosk was closed. The beigel seller told us that they had run out of gas. At o’clock someone approached the kiosk, took out from underneath boxes of shoes and began to arrange them on the chair next to the cage. Later in the day they also have a counter…
Only towards 8 did we join a line and it took half an hour to pass.
After our report last week about the filth and neglect on the Israel side of the checkpoint which is totally the responsibility of Jerusalem Municipality, when we emerged in the light of day, we had a surprise- they had cleaned! Here are the pictures:
Even the litter behind the stone fence was cleaned- although new litter has begun collecting.
The cement planters are still full of litter, and the posters and broken signs remained as they had been…