Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), יום ו' 30.7.10, בוקר
Translator: Charles K.
The truth is that, given the sociopolitical processes that Israeli society is undergoing, it’s hard to believe that what we do regarding what’s going on at this checkpoint (as well), a checkpoint where female and male Palestinian workers who received all the possible “certifications” they require in order to build Israel - harvest the field crops for its citizens, clear away the garbage Israelis generate and undertake other jobs that Israelis feel are beneath them – start waiting in the middle of the night; it’s hard to believe that these testimonies can change any aspect of the policy set “on high” or the public’s attitude toward the Palestinians in general and toward those with permission to work in Israel in particular.
How many times already have we written and quoted the requests made by those required to cross through the checkpoints during these hours on Friday: to open the checkpoint earlier, at the same hour as it opens the other days of the week; relieve the crowding within the structure; designate a separate line for women; move the workers through more quickly so they’ll catch their rides and won’t lose a day of work (which anyway is short).
What, after all, are they asking? To be treated with dignity! All people have been created in His image!
Does anything we write make a difference?
What is clear from discussions with the people running the checkpoint is that the principal motivation is to save money (though they themselves make a pretty good living from working there).
Though it doesn’t seem that the attempt to save money has affected the landscaping on the Israeli side (or, to be exact, the façade the checkpoint presents to staff of the Crossings Administration or other visiting functionaries.
The rear of the checkpoint is piled with garbage).
The distress experience by those crossing the checkpoint is audible in the commotion we hear from time to time involving people waiting outside the facility, and from inside the facility as well.
We see the distress resulting from the crowded line (though it’s shorter than during the week).
People climb the fences. We saw one of the men exiting wearing a shirt whose back was torn.
When the revolving gates open people run to get in line as quickly as possible for the metal detector. Some remember to put their can of tuna on the table alongside, the can of drink, anything that could force them to go back because the machine might beep, and some forget.
Like the one who had aluminum foil in his bag.
We saw one man go back. He didn’t answer when we asked him why.
Each time the revolving gate opens between 40-80 men and women run/crowd forward. A few minutes elapse from the time the gate closes and when it reopens.
The first people coming through (still) look pleased. They crossed relatively quickly.
A man carrying a red bag exited after 20 minutes. Not bad. But later people come out in dribs and drabs.
Anger and frustration replace smiles: “A tough day, tough,” “It’s a mess inside,” “Great suffering,” “It would be better to close down on Friday” (rather than this harassment), “Do something.” A man speaking fluent English complains heatedly about the humiliating treatment, that it takes 8 hours to go 40 kilometers while in Italy, which he visited, you can travel 1000 km in four hours.
We arrived at 5 AM and at 7:10 intended to leave after we saw no one waiting to enter the facility, although from time to time someone shows up. But on our way to the car people started talking to us, needing to share the difficulties they’re subjected to, and apparently also to make contact with us:
- A merchant who, among other things, buys clothing in Israel and sells it on the West Bank, was pushed and fell 20 days ago at the checkpoint, broke the joint of his little finger where it connects to the palm, and it’s in a cast. The immobilization of the break wasn’t done correctly. We gave him the phone number of Physicians for Human Rights.
- A man who lives in 'Illar exited the checkpoint only at 06:15, while his employer waits for his workers until 06:10 at the latest. The worker, no longer a young man, an unskilled construction laborer, now sits on the curb and seems unwilling to return home empty-handed.
- Another man, from Ya'bad, who works in Hadera in construction, isn’t allowed to cross via Barta’a in order to get to work.
- A native of Nablus who opened a garage in Tulkarm, where he lives, made a good living prior to the Al-Aksa intifada. He had many Israeli customers, and became good friends with some of them (his Hebrew is excellent, current. “My friend corrected me when I made a mistake”), including joint trips around the country. He sank into debt as business declined drastically and is employed today by a garage in Netanya.
- A 43 year old man from Tulkarm has worked since he was 15 in the moshav Nitzanei Oz, even before the checkpoint and the fence and the walls. He lives within spitting distance of his workplace, but now has to make the much longer bureaucratic (he shows us his permit, magnetic card, ID) and geographic journey.
- An employer detailed to us the difficulties employers confront. We suggested that they get organized.
“The Hope of us All" ?????????????????