Irtach, Ayal, Chabala 15 December 2010
Translation: Suzanne O.
Until the sun rose it was very cold and we wondered how the Palestinians get to the roadblock in the middle of the night – they are the builders, agricultural workers and cleaners who do all the work that Israelis either despise or are not prepared to do for the wages paid for them – they have to queue in the cold and then perform physical work.
Those who have already been through the inspection are scattered around in small groups at the top of the road, in the car park, in the area adjacent to the roadblock, the same space in which a few months ago the vehicles transporting the labourers to their work in Israel were permitted to park.
The iron barrier which barred the road leading to the roadblock has been removed.
Beside the entrance to the site the turnstiles are immobile. However, as we arrive they are activated and people hurry in. Each time the turnstiles open between 30 – 50 people manage to squeeze in front of the magnometer. It happens every minute (a minute which is not spared from waiting in the 'rooms') and they put articles on the table (tins of food, for example) which might set off the magnometer.
Today the anonymous voice coming through the tannoy system speaks to those entering in a quiet and moderate tone. However, when there is a short hold up in putting articles on the table it causes the voice to rise and become impatient: "Yallah go through!" And again the turnstiles are immobile. 5 minutes later they are activated again, and so on.
A woman goes to the end of the queue. "What happened?" "Hawiya" – ID card. But she has already been through the turnstile so it is not clear what the problem was with her ID card.
It is still dark but we can see that in the lane leading to the entrance to the roadblock many people are standing crowded together. From time to time the crowd's voice sounds complaining at the extended waiting time. The voice is carried on the air but there is not a soul on the other side that appears to have actually heard the heartfelt call.
A man returns and then another one but they both refuse to reply when we ask why.
We are at the exit point of the building. People leave all the time but at different rates. A man leaving says that there are no people inside but there are still loads of people waiting to get in.
There are a lot of people and vehicles in the car park. There are buses among the vehicles waiting for the arrival of the relatives of Palestinian prisoners imprisoned in Israel. They will arrive at 7:30 a.m.
On the lane leading from Kalkilya towards the roadblock the turnstile is working and people go through one at a time. It is still dark and the movement of the shadows entering is like a slow motion film. There is no crowding on the lane and at a rough guess there are still 300 people waiting to be inspected.
We go over to the turnstile at the exit from the building and a man tells us, as he walks to the car park, "There is no harder life than this".
We drove via Tsofin roadblock. A Border Policeman appeared confused or surprised at seeing a car bearing the MachsomWatch flag. With a hesitant hand movement he signals us to stop. "Where are you from? I'm asking because of the flag". The car starts to move and he again signals us to stop. This time he wants to inspect the boot! Later we glanced at what not so long ago was the Kalkilya roadblock. Now there is a huge advertisement over the road, where before there was the roadblock.
People continue to arrive at the checkpoint for Palestinians who have succeeded in getting a work permit for the settlement Alfei Menasheh. Some 15 men and women queue there.
Two school buses transporting pupils from the Bedouin diaspora of Arav – a Ramadin arrive. These children go to schools in Chabala and Kalkilya. A soldier gets on the bus for an inspection.
One of the bus drivers requests that the gates open at 1.15 p.m., and not at 1:45 p.m., when the children returnafter school. The buses and the children in them get to the gate at 1:15 p.m., and are forced to wait. This waiting time is a recipe for problems and the drive expresses his concern that while waiting the children (as is their way) may cause problems.
We left. There are still a number of people waiting to cross into their lands.