Irtah, Thu 30.4.09, Morning
Translation: Bracha B.A.
Irtach - 04:20 AM
We arrived at the checkpoint early in the morning, at 4:20. A Palestinian who wants to get to work on time is already there at 3:00 – 3:30. If he is late he climbs the fence in front to try and enter earlier. This increases the crowded conditions and tension and nervousness that are always present in the huge lineup of people that accumulates in front of the checkpoint.
There are hundreds or thousands of people waiting in line in the 60-leter long compound that is 3-4 meters wide. They are waiting to push their way inside when the red light is turned off. This takes about three hours.
When the red light goes off about 20 men and women push forward through the three turnstiles to the next turnstile and from there to the facility. The checkpoint opens at exactly 04:30.At 05:45 there were only a few people in the area in front of the checkpoint.We went from one side to another twice in order to see and hear what was going on at the side where people come out.For a minute a woman tried for some unknown reason to go back through the checkpoint but could not get back through the turnstile. No one was willing to relinquish the second they have to get in and let her through. We went to ask the guard from the security company to help her. He didn’t give it a moment of thought and said that it was their problem. When we went back to the other side she was no longer there.While we were standing on the exit side people immediately came up to us to complain.
Because of the large amount of people and small amount of manpower conducting the inspections, it is difficult to get through the checkpoint. This causes workers to come early in order to avoid being late for their rides. Their workday, which includes the trip there and back begins in the middle of the night and ends the next evening. They get very little sleep and little time at home. Travel expenses as well as a fee to their employer for employment are deducted from their already low salaries. (Even on days when workers do not work because they arrive late they must still pay NIS 50 and travel expenses.)
Despite this, anyone who has a job is better off than someone who is prevented from working because of security measures. There is no work in the West Bank, and if there is any it pays little.In short, wherever we look things are extremely difficult.The workers complain about the checkpoint opening late, crowded conditions, pressure, pushing, and fear of being late for work.Our presence there time after time perhaps offers people the feeling that we have power to change something, but unfortunately it appears that matters are not in our hands.We feel (the team observing today) that it is not sufficient in this case to merely witness or listen. We have to do something despite the fact that any act would be cosmetic action only.
There is still a continuous nightmarish situation here for thousands of people and a better situation could be created relatively easily. Perhaps if the crossing would be open 24 hours a day it would change this madness.