Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Tue 9.6.09, Morning

Semadar B, Ziona O, guest Akiva O Natanya translating

 We got to Itrach at 04.00 where 100s were waiting for the turnstiles to be opened. Many were praying. Near the turnstiles elderly women who had come early so as not to be pushed in with the men  gathered together.  Many were glad to see us and greeted us with a good morning.  The turnstiles opened at 4.35. In the beginning every two minutes and then only every 7-8. Because they are not allowed to take through frozen water to which the women who work in agriculture need I had prepared 6 bottles of iced water and gave it to them after they had exited the terminal. But to my sorrow there were not enough for everyone.

6.10 Most of the workers had passed and we stayed to see who had not been allowed through and why.

6 were rejected because the hand print did not fit and 5 because their permits had expired

At 7.00 an army Hummer with a young sergeant and three soldiers arrived. The sergeant demanded  that we leave. We showed him that we were not standing on the patrol road and were not bothering them in any security action. He  again demanded and in a very vulgar manner demanded that we leave, We told him that we would not do so and if he wanted he could bring an order from the central command  and then we would decide whether to leave. He left with his soldiers. About 15 minutes later an army jeep arrived and a sergeant major with a kippa alighted. He said that his name was Alon and that he was responsible for the area. He asked what was the matter. We explained that we had been standing there for some weeks already and had never been told to leave. He said we could stand there. A conversation ensued between the soldiers and ourselves. They asked to what paper we were going to report. Sergeant major Alon asked us to tell him what problems we had encountered before we should report our complaints to the paper. He asked us to first inform Major Grisha, the commander of the DCO. We told him that the workers were not allowed to take frozen bottles of water through and also not food for their own consumption. He was shocked and did not believe us. We showed him the photos on Semadar's camerainfo-icon  of bamia, olives, oil, and knafa which they had not been allowed to take through and he said he was shocked and that it was forbidden to prevent workers from taking food though and said that he would deal with the matter and bring it personally to the attention of Major Grisha.

He said that the checkers had no problem knowing what food was a security risk. We told him that the checkpoint Ayal food and frozen water is allowed through. He again said that he was shocked and had not known this. He asked us to detail all the complaints of the workers and to bring them to him the following day and he personally would give them to the commander of the DCO. I prepared the letter and I add a copy. He said that he had been told that soon 10 cold water installations would be put at the exit and the workers could fill their bottles which they could bring with them. It must be said that he listened with patience and empathy and spoke politely and to the point. He said that he appreciated our work  and that we should not report this to the papers until it had been taken up at the DCO.

The conversation with him took 20 minutes. I enclose the letter which we wrote to lieutenant colonel Grisha, the commander of the DCO at Tulkarm . We left the checkpoint at about 8.00..