'Azzun 'Atma, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Tue 15.12.09, Morning
Translation: Bracha B.A.
07:25 – Azzun Atma
There abluetooth ubuntu 9.04re no Palestinians at the checkpoint. Some are sitting outside waiting to be picked up for work in Israel. Two of them tell us that at the second gate at Azun Atma they waited for an hour and a half in the morning to get out. They arrived at 05:00 and finally left at 05:30.
An army jeep number 612186 is standing next to the checkpoint and inside it an officer is sitting and watching us with contempt. Two young people are standing outside the checkpoint waiting for their ID cards and permits to be returned. Both are blacklisted and the soldier makes them go back inside. One is anger and shouts, but to no avail. When Ada spoke to the officer in the jeep it becomes apparent (as much as we can trust his word) that the man remained in Israel for five days, is considered to be an illegal and is therefore not being permitted to leave the village despite his permit. One of the two young men went with the detainee immediately while the other one who protested remained, shouting and getting angry, but did not get what he wanted. Meanwhile a group of Palestinians assembled who wanted to leave the village and they leave rather slowly one by one. A military policewoman in the inspection booth checks their permits.
09:48 - Irtah
It looks as if every time we arrive at Irtah there are more cement barriers and more fences which hide the facility.
Both sides of the crossing were empty, but there were a lot of people waiting in the parking lot, which made us suspicious. When one of the workers in the facility asked what we were doing we asked him if there had been delays in the facility and he said that he did not know why the people outside were waiting or for whom. Suddenly Palestinians began to come out of the facility, having been checked for some time inside.
The first to come out was a woman who told us in a few words of Hebrew and English that she had been searched and had to undress and be checked with a laser. After that a businessman came out and told us about a very crowded room that is meant for 8 people and he had been there for more than a half hour with more than 20 men and women. Their IDs had been taken from them and they were released after more than a half hour. We tried to call one of the workers in the facility but they ignored us. We called the Liaison and Coordination Administration and the humanitarian hotline. Alona and Or from the humanitarian hotline wrote down our complaints after Ada spoke with them.
At the Liaison and Coordination Administration we were answered by a polite man named Tomer who claimed to write down our complaints and even referred us to the operations officer, Idit. She told us that the facility is not under the jurisdiction of the army, as if we didn’t know that) and said she would try and check the matter out and that she would be glad to help at any time. She even invited the women from Machsom Watch to a meeting at the Liaison and Coordination Administration. Her mobile number is 057 81446486.
I encourager whoever wants to bother and call any time not only so that they know that there is a problem at Irtah regarding the poor treatment of the Palestinians by the private security company, lack of basic respect, acting against recommendations (for example placing men and women together in a crowded room) etc.