Bethlehem, Sun 27.12.09, Morning
"One and a half years we did not have such a good day as today!" argued some of the laborers.
So how "good" was this day?
4:45 AM, Bethlehem: the cage was already packed full and the queue stretched 30m outside the cage.
Some laborers lie on the floor on a carton and try to doze a little bit.
Young men jump over the fence into the cage.
We feel like peeping toms, looking into the cages and seeing humiliated people.
A young woman with a sick and drowsy child waits for herturn.
At the "humanitarian" lane 30% of the waiting people are being returned.
The laborers from the South Hebron Hills had to leave their homes already at 2:30.
The peddlers sell coffee and try to earn some pennies.
When the checkpoint opens at 5:00 the whole mass of people pushes forward in order to get to the security check.
6:30 AM at the Israeli side: after the security check the Palestinians are more relaxed and ready to talk and tell.
The crossing was "fast", only 40 minutes.
They speak about the difficulties in receiving an entry permit into Israel.
Sometimes you "buy" permits with money.
On Wednesday 40 working permits were confiscated from laborers waiting for their employers.
Many of them do not have permanent employers and have to wait daily for odd jobs.
The working day has not yet begun, but the laborers are already 3 – 4 hours on their way.
But all of them confirm: "One and a half years we did not have such a good day as today!"