Eyal Crossing, Eliyahu Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Qalqiliya, Ras 'Atiya, Tue 27.10.09, Afternoon
Ras Atiya checkpoint
13:40 - There are 3 soldiers at the checkpoint. Two cars enter without delays and one car as well as one pedestrian leave.
The Palestinian in one of the entering cars stops to talk to us. He wants to tell us that the soldiers are OK now, which wasn't always like this but now it's OK. He also tells us that the hours of pressure at the checkpoint are 06:30 in the morning and 18:30 in the evening, opening and closing time.
Tsufin checkpoint (1037)
14:20 - We move towards Qalqiliya. Four soldiers are at the checkpoint. No one stops us nor talks to us.
14:25 - The checkpoint is unmanned.
We want to go back through Sufin checkpoint but the soldiers don't allow us. It turns out that there is no problem in entering through Sufin and going towards Qalqiliya but leaving from there is prohibited unless one has an ID card with a Sufin address.
Eliyahu Gate passage
14:30 - A soldier and military police check trunks and ID cards of everyone who crosses. They are rather rude. There aren't many cars and the traffic is flowing.
Irtah checkpoint (Efrayim Gate)
15:00 - As soon as we get there, people approach us. One Palestinian from Jenin says it takes him a long time to cross the checkpoint in the morning and in the afternoon because of the congestion. Today he has been working in Ashkelon picking grapefruit, for which he got IS 60.00.
A Palestinian family woman who works in Kadima picking strawberries can barely make it to return until 18:30 and sometimes has to spend the night in Kadima.
Palestinian young women complain that having no separation between men and women in the passages makes them very uncomfortable since there are men who take advantage of the crowdedness and paw them.
When we stand right at the gate, the men tell us that in the morning the congestion is huge. There are thousands of people and many times people get wounded because of the congestion. There are not enough, sometimes only two, inspection "windows" despite the pressure and the checks are spitefully slow. They wish that the checkpoint could open half an hour earlier in the morning (at (04:00) and that there would be four or even six additional manned "windows". Many people say that they were treated muck better when the soldiers handled the inspection.
As we listen to them we can see that although there are 100 people waiting, only one inspection window is active and the line is long. We call the IDF Humanitarian Center in order to complain and some time later another window opens and the pressure lets up immediately.
Riva has managed to talk with the person in charge of the security about the separation between men and women in the morning hours. He says there is not much that can be done but promises to look into the matter. He says there is separation in the security check but not in the long line that precedes them.
16:00 - When we arrive, we hear from Nayima that it is not allowed to carry food (cooked meat, rice and lentil dish, sour milk) and they threw hers into the garbage can. Only water (not ice) and canned food are allowed.
Here, too, it's coming back from work rush hour and only one window is operating. The line is long. We call the Humanitarian Center, which seems to help because another window opens.
No'am from B'Tselem [The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories] contacts Riva and asks her to find out what exactly is the inspection facility that disconcerts some of the women fearing that the X-rays show them nude. Riva's attempt to talk to any of the workers in the facility is unsuccessful. They simply ignore her request to talk to them. She discusses the problem with the Humanitarian Center and then also with Grisha, the head of the DCO [District Coordination Office of the IDF Civil Administration that handles passage permits]. From him we learn that the instruction (not to talk to us) that the women soldiers at the Efrayim DCO got has been canceled. We also discuss with him the issue of the separation between men and women at Irtah, the terrible crowdedness in the morning and the problem of the food they can carry, a problem we believe to be solved.
16:30 - Our shift ends, but not the occupation...