Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 13.5.12, Morning
On the Green Line north of Route 557 and south of Tulkarm, operated by a civilian manpower company. Serves as exit and entry gate for workers from Tulkarm in Israel, and for transit of commercial quantities of goods by back-to-back method.
04:00 The turnstiles are still closed. When I (Dutch) comment “it is difficult to start in time”, Leora (Israeli) says “one cannot
expect from an Israeli to be punctual like the Europeans”
04:05 Via the loudspeakers we hear: “boker tov, we’ll start our working day” , the red light changes into green and the 3 turnstiles start turning to let a large group (about 60) of laborers through. A group of about 20 women come in through a separate gate, which is closed immediately behind them. The fences (on the Palestinian-side) are repaired, this time they look quite sturdy. The barbed-wire rolls (concertina’s) that in the past prevented us from coming near the fence, are now piled up on the entrance-fences. There is more order now, as people cannot jump the queue anymore. Women, who arrive after 04.00 o’clock will have to join the regular queue, as the special gate is closed. The regular proceedings: running towards the magnometer, packages pass via a table on the side, some shoes as well, when the manometer buzzes the person is turned back and rechecked, accompanied by angry commentary of the fellow workers who are held up. We see one person being turned back, but we cannot reach him with our question “why?” There are no “Ecumenicals” this morning. Things run rather smoothly.
04:45 We go to the side where the laborers exit, here we do not hear any complaints and indeed there is a regular stream of people coming out of the terminal and our impression of the smooth proceedings seem to be confirmed, with one exception of a young man who complains that he entered the terminal at 04:00 and it took an hour for him to exit. Someone asks us to try to get the terminal to open at 04:00 on Fridays too, as it is a short workday to begin with and to start an hour later is really problematic. Someone-else we gave a telephone no. of Kav la Oved before, wants to check if he got the right number as his ex-boss did not succeed to get hold of them. He wants to try to renew his work as a chef in the restaurant he worked before and not as a “shiputsnik”. We gave him Sylvia P’s tel. no. as well.
06:00 We leave. On the way back we enter the enclave of the few houses belonging to the Abu Shneine-family on the Israeli side of the Separation Wall near Qalqiliya and highway 6. A man we meet there was not sure if he heard of Machsom Watch before. He claims these houses were always part of Kfar Saba – not of Qalqiliya, as I thought. If that indeed is the case, Kfar Saba’s municipality surely does not take good care of them: the road leading towards the enclave is in a very sorry state, as is the sanitation: piles of dirt everywhere !