'Azzun 'Atma, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Fri 23.7.10, Morning
Dawn shift report. Arta
Translation: Suzanne O.
Summary: The late opening of the crossing causes stress during the first hour, with shouting and much bitterness.
The crossing opens. The queue reaches back to the awnings. It is still dark and therefore difficult to quite see the end of the queue. People actually rush in, running. The person in charge shouts at them: "Wachad, wachad - don't run". And threatens: "Anyone who runs will be promptly sent to the back". The turnstile stops in their faces suddenly. A din of raised voices can be heard from the queue, and shouting from within. It is not possible to see what is actually happening. (What does actually happen inside - what are the authorities so frightened of us seeing that we are not permitted to enter?!)
We moved to the side of the exit. The first of those inspected are out. Two of them told us that they had got to the roadblock at 2:00 a.m.! They work in the south. Another one told us that he arrived at 3:00 a.m.
We returned to the entrance. According to them the turnstiles have been closed for 10 minutes already.
We contact the humanitarian centre and they say they will look into the matter. Within a minute the turnstiles re-open. Was it due to the complaint? It's not clear. From within loud shouts are heard.
We measured the pace of those going in:
5:47 a.m. after a long interval - 95 people
5:58 a.m. 60 people
5:59 a.m. about 50 people
6:05 a.m. about 40 people
6:07 a.m. about 40 people
6:10 a.m. about 75 people
6:11: the queue is finished. Whoever arrives now enters immediately.
It is already light outside.
We tried to work out the length of the 'slalom' into which people are crowded before going through the first entrance turnstiles to the roadblock.
The slalom has 4 rows between bends of about 7 metres each, reaching up to the small area just in front of the turnstiles.
Most of our conversations with them today are about the opening time of the crossing. Everyone repeats the request for an earlier opening time from 5:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. or 4:30 a.m., because it is a short working day anyway and the late opening shortens it even more and causes great anxiety while queuing and crowding inside the building.
According to them, during quarrels over the queue inside, the labourers curse each other and even resort to fighting. Someone told us that a week ago he got to the roadblock at 3:00 a.m., and only got out at 6:30 a.m. In spite of the fact that he is older he was taken into the inspection room. On Fridays in particular they are held up for longer in the inspection rooms. Someone else arrived at 5:00 a.m. (for opening time) and got out at 7:30 a.m., with a long journey to his workplace still before him. How much time does he have left in which to work?
When they complain during the crossing they are told: "If it doesn't suit you - go back home".
We returned again and again to our suggestion they themselves contact the Palestinian DCO bringing pressure to bear from their side to make the opening time earlier. We recalled the success of their strike which helped to make the opening time earlier on weekdays.
Many of them told us that they had already done that. They say that the DCO know, but they are not interested in labourers and their approaches will not help.
We pleaded with them to try again; we passed them the telephone number of the humanitarian centre and also called the humanitarian centre with the same request. S., who replied, promised to pass the request to his commande3rs.
Will that help...?