Jalama, Sun 14.2.10, Morning
Translation: Bracha B.A.
Jalameh Crossing, 06:05
When we arrived at the checkpoint we thought we had come to a park filled with visitors on a picnic. The place was filled with benches, drinking fountains, and flowers planted in the traffic circles – an attractive place in the midst of a crowd of miserable and frustrated humanity. Waiting is the name of the game here – about 100 men and women on their way to work are sitting and waiting along the sidewalk in groups. The parking lot is filled with vehicles of employers waiting for the last of the workers who are detained within the terminal. On the other side of the terminal dozens of workers are waiting next to the gate to be called to go inside.
The checkpoint opens at 05:00 and people tell us that so far about 700 people have passed through. Most of the people are agricultural laborers who work in the nearby villages. They will work until 14:00 and then return home. There are also salespeople carrying their merchandise on their backs.
The terminal is full. We can hear the noise and the shouting from inside. Only one inspection window - out of 16 - is operating. We are told that the reason for this is that each window requires four security personnel. They keep only one window open in order to save money. Everyone is angry and no one has anything positive to say. The terminal is crowded and women have to squeeze through the narrow opening to the turnstile. Much has already been said about the fact that Moslem women are forbidden to come into close contact with strange men, and inside the rooms the women are often detained for a long time. The women claim that they are forced to undress and that there are cameras that photograph them and the pictures are shown to the soldiers. Meanwhile their employers are waiting for them outside. Finally, the electronic palm reader constantly doesn’t operate and people waste valuable time repeating checks and clarifying things. Workers who have already come through go back into the terminal and urge their friends to hurry, as if they could get through faster if they wanted to. . .
A, an Israeli employer, says that last week he waited for one of his workers until 09:00.
That day the checkpoint also opened late. Most of the time the employers leave without waiting for the workers. When they come out they find that they have missed the day's work. A laborer who has missed his ride tells us that a day's salary is around NIS 200, but he will try at the next village anyway – perhaps he can find a day's job. He is a widower and has five children at home.
The baby girl Aya is brought by her grandmother, since her mother is pregnant. She is going to Rambam Hospital for her dialysis treatment.
07:50-08:30 – The Vehicle Checkpoint
Only Israeli Arabs are permitted to pass through here and they can do so only in vehicles. Cars are waiting to be checked and the inspectors check the vehicles at random, checking I.D. cards first.
A small child accompanied by a relative is not allowed through. He can go through only with his parents.
08:30 – Back-to-Back Vehicle Checkpoint
Unfortunately we were not permitted to enter the facility and were unable to see the transfer of goods. Drivers told us that most of the good that come through here are building materials (concrete from the factory at Nesher). From the West bank trucks bring vegetables, textiles, and building materials. There are presently ten trucks waiting to be checked. Drivers tell us that the inspection procedure is efficient.