It takes over an hour to pass the checkpoint even early in the morning (plus a bus journey either side). But in reality it’s unpredictable, no one has any idea of when they will get to work. OK, just a harsher, artificially-createdversion of the London Underground, I hear you say, but the consequences are much more serious. Turning up late for work here can mean you lose your hugely valuable work permit since they are often connected to a specific job, and with the huge pool of labour available, employers can pick and choose.

However, on my first day I didn’t expect something quite so unpredictable as a power cut. The soldier’s booth blacked out, screens off, loudspeaker down. The turnstiles stopped and an electronic gate next to them sprung open by itself. It lasted about five minutes. There was temporary euphoria as 300 people rushed back out of the lanes and swept through the gate. Of course they only got as far as the pen, and to the frustration of those who didn’t make it through, the turnstiles stayed closed while the crowd cleared.

Apart from the odd moment of light relief, it is truly vile, it has to be seen to be believed. 90% of people going through this checkpoint have Jerusalem IDs. If it is purely a security check it should be efficient. But Palestinians say it is not intended to be. The fact that the system itself is abusive, and also lends itself to petty soldier abuse, suggests that it’s real function is punishment, a system designed to discourage people from using it, and ultimately to stop you going to your city.

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