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 25.3.12, 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.
The main problem is: the fence leading towards entrance (the first turnstiles) is vandalized and so there does no longer exist a queue as people cut in on the once waiting their turn; people are almost being crushed and women hardly dare to enter.
So the first thing is:someone has to repair the fence properly and make it more solid .
Also: people are complaining about the (un)human treatment: they are not only being talked to with rudeness and coarseness, but being “forgotten” in the rooms sometimes for over an hour.
04:00 From far we can see that the little red light above the turnstiles is still burning; it shows they are still closed.
04:04 Three turnstiles open and more than 60-80 people are rushing through and now crowd before the only one magnometer. (idea: maybe add one more?!)(the leftovers from Hawarra, maybe?!)
Two minutes later:a woman’s voice through the loudspeaker:”Good morning, we have started our working day.”
We meet again the two representatives of the EAPPI, this time Erico and Sara, the “Ecumenicals”, who tell us that holes were made in the fence close to the turnstiles. Now people that have been standing in line are cut off by those who push through these holes causing an immense chaos. There is no separate line for the women; some are permitted by their male co-workers to go first.
04:30 We go to the exit-side. It is difficult to see how many checking-booths are open, is seems about 6-8 (of the 14/16) In five min. (04:50-04:55) 95 people passed. Someone who was given the card from the EAPPI with his entrance time, exits 45 min. (!) later We are being told that only 2 of 3 “stations” near the entrance are in use. After that, those younger than 45 have to pass an (“Xray”) machine, but even sometimes older people are sent back for additional screening. Often people are being left and ignored for ½ - 1 hour in the closed and crowded room during which their identity-cards are being checked.
05:05- 05:10 90 people pass in 5 minutes.
05:20 Sara (EAPPI) calls and reports that for the women the situation is extremely difficult. She called the “Moked” and asked for the humanitarian lane to be opened for the women. “Could you try in another few minutes again, in Hebrew?” she suggests. We call at 05:25, but as nothing changes in the situation there, we call again at 05:45. Almost everyone exiting, seems angry and frustrated.
05:55-05:57 50 people pass in 2 min. A woman who forgot a bag with her working clothes asks to be let in again, but is being ignored, as are our repeated –and shouted -- requests. Eventually, after at least half an hour, a guard comes and is willing to let her in: “you have to be patient”(!) he orders and at last changes the direction of the turnstile-rotation so she is able to re-enter. When she returns with her bag everyone standing around there is glad, a happy moment of solidarity during the otherwise depressing shift.
06:30 We leave (after informing Sara (EAPPI) we waited in vain over an hour for the second person with card to exit).