Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 22.8.10, Morning
We came on Sunday morning because many people complained about this day, and now it was Ramadan. We had coordinated with the ‘Ecumenicals’ of area A, the other side of the fence to which we don’t have access. We tried to measure how much time it took for someone at the back of the line to cross through to the Israeli side, unsuccessfully – but two young folk on the other side reported to us on the winding queue and on the hut at the end of it. To summarize, on Sundays there are considerably more people crossing, there is more crowding and more pauses in passing people through the “enclosure” for checking and much more frustration and anger. It would be worth having teams watching in the coming weeks.
04.00-04.30 The carousels entering the checking facility began operating at 04.00. There are numerous people in both the queue and the winding part of the fences that border it. The hut itself was dark, unlike on regular days, because counters for selling food and drinks were closed. The coffee seller finished selling his last coffee a few minutes after 04.00. In the first half-hour about 100 people passed through with every opening of the carousels. The first people exited the other side to the waiting area and the taxis in about10 minutes. Four stations for checking documents and fingerprints worked in the first half-hour and in the same period the exit carousel closed 4 times each time for 2-4 minutes. Each time this caused crowding for the people in the exit corridor. Between these closures, about 125 people passed within 5 minutes. We tried to meet the person in charge, so as to complain. After waiting, we were told at 05.50 that he said “he was too busy”.
04.30-06.00 From 04.30, there were no closures of the carousels exiting the checking booths. On the other hand, there were10-14 minute pauses in allowing people to enter the yard, each time increasing the crowding and the shouting. 60 people were let into the yard each time. Until 06.00, there were loud angry voices coming from the checking booth. Most of the waiting time seemed to be in the line entering the checking lane. Everyone coming out complained about the crowding, the extreme heat and the absence of air and air conditioning. The rate of exit was extremely irregular – sometimes 30-40 people exited in 5 minutes, sometimes 115.
Usually the line gets thinner between 05.30 and 05.40 and the yard empties. Today, even after 06.00, many people were still rushing out towards the taxis.
A woman who was told to return hesitated and, after talking to us, decided to insist on her right to pass and go to work.
06:00—06:50 Only at about 6.30 did the line waiting for checking get shorter. Getting through checking now took 5-7 minutes. People coming out now were very angry, many saying they had already lost the day’s work.
Most people whom we asked said that because of Ramadan they finish work two hours early. Some said they get their regular pay; others had pay deducted. There were apparently fewer women than usual.
Wonders of the occupation’s arbitrariness: We managed, with the help of young “Ecumenicals”, to speak to a 52 year-old man from Kfar Tsur who was not allowed to pass. He had a DCO permit from last Thursday, allowing him to pass through ’Shaar Efraim’ today at 05.00, to visit his wife in Augusta Victoria hospital in Jerusalem. We called numerous agencies and all agreed he had a permit but this stated “to accompany a patient”. Hence, although he had a doctor’s letter showing that his wife was already in hospital, he was not allowed to pass in order to visit her. In spite of our efforts, he had to go back. He will have to go to the DCO and get a permit that says “visit”. It was heartbreaking to get all the thanks from him and others for all our – unsuccessful – efforts.