Eyal, Sun 24.5.09, Morning
It's still dark. A few transit vans are beginning to collect the first workers coming through. The checkpoint opened at 03:55 and those leaving the building which is used for the inspections tell us that today the checkpoint is "good,good.
A line of men by the path are praying the dawn prayer.
Inside – four check posts (out of ten) are operating. And for the first time – there is a separate check post for women. At this time the women are crossing over. Later the treacle of women will dwindle until in about an hour no woman will pass here. They sit to one side of the checkpoint, waiting to be collected.
The people are happy to talk to us. They tell us that they leave home in Tamoun (near the Jordan Valley) in Hawara, or Azoun Etme at 01:30 or 02:00 am and return home at 06:00 -08:00 pm. Thus every day, and in between – hard labour in the Tel Aviv area. When do they live, at all?
Here it is not the employers who do the collection, but special paid transit vans take them to the Guehah Junction. Here the workers wait for the contractors to select them for work. Some will not be selected and by 08:30-09:00 am they will return disappointed and with a large hole in their pockets, having just paid for the transits to and from the checkpoint.
We cross the wall and stand alongside the fence where a long queue is waiting to enter the inspection at the checkpoint. The queue is very long and you cannot see its end. Two supervisors stand in the middle of the queue and organize it. And indeed it is well organized, and all is calm. Still, by the fence we find a used grenade, a reminder of the days a few weeks ago when our members reported the throwing of shock grenades into the crowd of thousands which gathered by the fence. The workers tell us of the terrible crowding, broken limbs, injuries by the grenades (one person, suffering from severe burns, is still in hospital). But not today – "today is good".
The time of crossing through the checkpoint, as measured by us and verified by the Ecumenical volunteers, is 20 minutes. (Waiting time, as reported by the Palestinians – one and a half to two hours.)
Every few minutes a green light is switched on above the carousels which start turning quickly. About 100-120 people go through them rapidly and then run into the checkpoint. Then the turning carousel stops and the last person to try and go through is pushed back surprised, waiting for it to start turning again.
The Ecumenical volunteers are hanging around by the queue.
The checkpoint is full of rubbish and looks like a huge hangar for processing cattle or like a large prison, with all the fenced lanes which lead people from one fenced area to another fenced area. Not a place where a person dreams to be.
And still the people say "today the checkpoint is good". Everything is relative.
Dawn. We depart.