Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Thu 18.2.10, Morning

Observers: 
Tzvia S., Rachel A. (reporting)
18/02/2010
|
Morning

Translator:  Charles K.

Dawn Shift

A holiday The day following the strike has become a holiday.

People went through the checkpoint bright-eyed.  Thousands of people waited for rides about 5:30 AM.  The lot was full of taxis and hubbub.

Everyone excitedly told us that it was the first day in two years they’d felt like human beings.

It took about 10 minutes to go through the checkpoint.

All the booths were open.

Border Police soldiers helped the employees of the security company move the people through and keep order outside.

The Palestinians, for their part, described in graphic, professional terms, how they went through:  “We stood in lines as straight as a ruler.”  There was no need to push or argue.  Everything flowed.

According to a number of people we spoke to, yesterday’s events went like this:

The protest was spontaneous.  As if this entire period had been unbearable, and something was in the air, just waiting for someone to say something, and the rest happened on its own.

“We had it up to here.  We couldn’t take it any longer, and it exploded.  The rumor about the strike spread like wildfire among the people.

A group of about 30 entered and sat down blocking the entrance and announced that they’re not leaving.  The entrance to the checkpoint closed, and those waiting outside also sat down. 
It lasted from 4:30 AM to 8:30 AM.

Local TV stations and Al-Jazira arrived (apparently from Tulkarm) to cover the strike.

At one point the security company managers showed up and talked with the people.

This morning we talked to one of the spokesmen, who fluently and precisely told us what their demands are, demands we know very well:

Opening the crossing at 4 AM (like the Eyal crossing)

Opening all 8 inspection booths.Separating men and women.Eliminating the [long?] wait in the rooms.Allowing people inside to pray.Repairing the fence at the entrance – it’s now completely falling apart

And most important:  Respect. (“We’re working people, we want respect from the security personnel, to be treated like human beings, not to be treated with contempt, stop being humiliated like we are now.”

 

The checkpoint opened at 4:30 AM today – in other words, the first demand wasn’t met.

One of the people who said he’d been among the spokesmen told us that if the crossing doesn’t open at 4 AM on Sunday they’ll strike again, and asked us to notify TV stations.

One who appeared to be in charge of the crossing, and his deputy (maybe the director of the security company) drove around in a luxurious car.  Tzvia tried to talk to them, they looked right through us, slammed the car door and sped off to their next stop.

 

The air was clearer today.  A heavy weight was removed from the heart.  The feeling of strength, of the ability to bring about a change, to demand rights, was reborn at the checkpoint today.

Remember the day.

After we were asked: Why don’t you do something?  You just keep writing.

We explained that we’re doing all we can, but, we emphasized to them, only you can change the situation.  You have the power (non-violent) to change many things.

 

On Sunday, at 4 AM, we’ll be there, hopefully with the Israeli media, and invite everyone who’s able to come.  (All our calendars are free at 4 AM).