Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Mon 11.5.09, Morning
04:15 Today I reached Irtach (near Tulkarm) with a photographer who is not a member of Machsom Watch. Yesterday we took a lot of pictures too.
Thousands were waiting quietly for the opening of the carousels. They recognized us and greeted us: "Good morning" "It's good that you are here" "When you are here the queue moves faster."
The carousels open up. Each time 50 people go through. There were six cases of people being sent back. One of these is Mas'oud, a grey haired 40 years old man. He was refused entrance because he brought a small melon in his food bag. Instead of X-raying the melon they simply sent him away.
The second case was of 4 women from Tulkarm who work in the strawberry fields of Ra'anana. They were stopped because their handprints did not match their previous ones. They called their contractor who promised to deal with it the next day but today they were sent home and lost their day's earnings.
The last case was a guy of 35, who was refused entrance because had had a small disposable razor and a nail cutter. Both items went through the metal detectors but were apprehended by the personal inspectors.
Why cannot these items and the melon be left at the installation and the people let through? They had got up at 02:00, waited hours in the queue and finally lost a day's work because the inspectors will not want to store away the confiscated items.
One must distribute a page to each of the inspected, detailing everything that constitutes "a threat to the security of Israel", such as olives, melons, sugar, cold water, nail cutters etc.
By 06:04 most of those in the queue had gone through into Israel. There was no pushing, shouting, fainting or injuries. Many commented that it was due to our presence. They asked us to come every day including Friday. Many of those who had gone through told us that every exposure to the media improves the conditions of the inspection. They asked us to invite foreign TV photographers, and especially from Al Jazeera to show the world the state they are in. Many said they preferred to work in the West Bank but since there was not enough work there they had no choice but to cross over into Israel.
Only a few dozens of workers remained waiting but the rhythm of opening of the carousels has slowed down. They were opened only once every 6 minutes instead of 2. Many of those in waiting told us of their troubles and asked for our advice. A 34 years old guy named A., from Atil village near Tulkarm, told us that his brother had a magnetic card that lets him into Israel but the Special Security Forces were refusing him entry without explaining why. He asked us to find out why.
Several inspection machines use radiation to screen the inspected. They are screened on their way back as well. They are worried about the potential carcinogenic effect of the radiation since they are exposed twice a day. At times children also go through the installation on their way to visit prisoners in Israeli prisons.
The three visits we made to the installation reduced considerably the suffering of those inspected there. They told us themselves that this was the case. Therefore the morning shifts are so important at every installation..