Hebron, Tarqumiya, Thu 22.4.10, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
1. Tarqumiyya crossing – operation and problems
2. Hebron – the occupation’s routine
We began our shift at Tarqumiyya. As soon as we reached the Palestinian side we were set upon by many people who were all wondering the same thing: They’ve been working for many years in Israel, and suddenly their work permits were cancelled. Some were told: “The GSS objects,” and some weren’t told anything.
We should note that at this hour all the laborers had gone through, and those who now arrived – except one who works in construction in Qiryat Gat who arrived at 04:00 and has been waiting since then because he wasn’t allowed through – are merchants who always arrive later. “Are you Sylvia?”, they ask. I write down their names and call Sylvia. Sylvia’s already trying to find out the fate of one of them, and I add a second…and a third…
We’ll do our best, but unfortunately it isn’t enough and doesn’t always help. Their confusion and desperation is visible on their faces, and they continue to wait for an answer.
I call Zion, the crossing supervisor, and ask to meet with him. He answers very politely that he can’t at the moment, and we make an appointment for 11:00
We drove to Hebron (report follows).
At 11:00, as promised, Yoram, Zion’s deputy, greets us, ready to answer all our questions. Zion joins us. He immediately picks up the phone and asks whomever he asks why they’re not allowed to cross. “GSS,” is the response.
That’s what appears on the computer, and the inspectors can’t do anything about it. They explain that there are three possible reasons for denying entry to Israel:
1. Security (GSS)
2. Biometric update – The fingerprints of manual laborers wear out because of scars, etc., and they are detained in order to update them.
3. Their employer no longer needs them, and until someone else wants to hire them…
“We’re doing our best to make the crossing easier and more efficient,” they say. “But not everything is under our control.” They add that “now many people have to renew their ‘smart card’, which they have to show when they’re inspected and cross, which also causes delays.” The supervisors clearly understand that it’s important that the crossing arrangements be well-organized and fair, and they’re really doing their best.
“Civilianization” of the truck crossing began in October, 2007, and of the pedestrian crossing in April, 2008. They say that civilianization improved conditions for those seeking work. “Between 3500-4000 people come through every day, compared to when the army was in charge, when about 1000 people came through daily. Today eight inspection booths operate every morning, starting at 04:15. A person who arrives will cross (if there are no delays) in 20 minutes. By 07:00 there are no more laborers at the crossing. Then the merchants arrive.”
“Are there plans to improve its appearance?”, we ask. “There’s no budget,” they reply.
“The army built it, and we took it over from them.”
“Why is the shed over the waiting area on the Palestinian side broken and damaged, without water or toilets?”
“That’s not our responsibility. The Civil Administration is responsible for the Palestinian side.”
Perhaps someone from the Civil Administration will read this report and understand that the disgraceful condition of the shed requires immediate attention.
We thank the Ministry of Defense staff for listening to us, and express our appreciation. If only the other departments responsible for the fate and the dignity of the Palestinians would extend to them the human rights they deserve.
The occupation routine continues in the town. Nahal soldiers at all the roadblocks.
We saw no detainees anywhere.
The door of Osama Abu Srah’s house, which overlooks the Worshipper’s Route, is still blocked even though Passover is over…He’s still waiting…
The observation balloon that floated over the city last week is sitting on the hill overlooking the evacuated “Federman farm.” Mizpeh Avichai, the new settlement, is still there.
The Nofei Mamreh neighborhood is also being developed and spreading towards Ata Jaber’s land.