Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Thu 29.4.10, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
We arrived at the roadblock at about 5 a.m.
At the entrance there was a long queue of people. The gate opens every so often and each time about 50 people enter.
We met two representatives from church voluntary organisations. We conversed with one of them for some time about their stay in the territories. Later we moved to the exit side. The car park is closed to vehicles transporting labourers. Only employees of the roadblock are permitted to park there. The labourers wait here, rest, pray and drink. A canteen has opened near the exit from the roadblocks. A tender was put out for the canteen and you can guess who won. There is a coffee machine, sandwiches and so on. The stall which did not win the tender has moved to the junction facing Jabra and whoever goes there can drink their coffee and not Shekem coffee.
At the eastern side of the road a car park has been built for the vehicles transporting labourers. The usual chaos reigns there. Drivers stalk passengers.
We walked around the area and waited for complaints which, at some point, started to materialise.
Someone told us that the wait in the rooms again starts to lengthen and causes lateness for work. Many labourers under the age of 30 are held in the rooms for inspection of documents and other inspections including: lift up; take off; do this etc.
One said that there is no one to talk to when there are problems. Occasionally the person responsible for inspecting documents talks on the phone and they have to stand and wait, and if they attempt to complain about it the guards from above threaten to send them back so, naturally, they are fearful.
On Fridays there are few labourers entering so then those working the roadblock go slow and the waiting time lengthens.
At about 6:30 a.m., we met the operations manager of the security company and asked him about the things mentioned above.
He listened carefully, was to the point in his answers, gave us the telephone number of the company, 04 658 2818, and said:
As the roadblock opens at 4 a.m., and in the first hour some 260 labourers enter. The pressure is greatest between 5 - 6:30 a.m., when approximately 3,500 labourers enter. All the positions are open (8). The inspections in the room are security based and important. No one is held longer than necessary. "We treat them as customers". The intention is to deliver a good service. They can bring in food and drink as they wish.
From Arta we drove in the direction of Huwwara village in order to give clothing to the second hand shop in Ein Abus. At almost every crossroad we see an IDF jeep. In Huwwara there is a group of soldiers walking the length of the main road.
We gave some of the clothes to the falafel stall in Huwwara and later, turning to the right, we met two women outside a house and asked them directions and also offered them the clothes. Obviously they accepted and invited us in for coffee. We sat with them both in their back garden and after a while the children of one of them arrived. Over a cup of coffee we talked in Arabic, as much as we were able, and learned that we are the first Israelis, who are not soldiers, to talk to them. We talked of other things too.
Conversing with women is a new and interesting initiative which gave us pleasure.