Reihan, Tue 1.2.11, Afternoon
16.10 The usual afternoon routine. The taxi drivers, waiting beside the private vehicles parking lot since morning, testify to the large number of people returning from work.
We distributed the journal Halonot (Windows) among the drivers and others. They perused it, some just leafing through, others read it more thoroughly.
Leaving the terminal are mainly single persons or families, returning from a visit to the West Bank. Next Sunday, 6/2/11, the semester vacation ends and the children return to school.
A bus stops at a station in the middle of the checkpoint. The settlers' children descend and immediately climb into the vehicle which takes them to their homes.
We wonder what goes on in the minds of these young children, who twice daily encounter hard-working Palestinians who undergo some kind of examination in a different corner of the checkpoint. What kind of persons will these children turn into when they grow up, if that is the reality of occupation they encounter daily? A Palestinian vehicle is always delayed and examined; passengers must disembark and wait for permission to continue, while vehicles with Israeli license plates rush by. What are the chances of peace with the Palestinians when such fixations are embedded at a tender age? This is truly sad.
At the terminal we concentrate on the line before the entrance, where people are returning to the West Bank after their workday.
16.45 Dozens of tired men crowd in a line ending somewhere up the "sleeve". Now they stop for 15 minutes because of a computer failure. One entry point isn't functioning, the other opens and the people stream inside in a solid mass, with their bundles, including fruit they received after picking them during the day.
Once they enter they are checked and are quickly on their way, before the next computer failure. Then further delays recur, despite the operating team's honest attempts to master the situation . Meanwhile more and more people arrive. All are tired, cold, and hungry. They left their homes at 4 a.m. They are working in Israel picking fruit, or in construction, or trade. Those working in the Shahak industrial park arrive at 18.00 after 10 hours' work. A few hundred arrive here while they left through different checkposts. They are checked and then pass, but the army claims that inhabitants of distant settlements are justifiably delayed. This sounds a matter of convenience for the soldiers, who could ease the situation by adding an opening.
Some 6-7 people had no permits but after waiting for a short time were allowed to go.
S. describes future technical innovations at the terminal: an intelligent computerized checking system which will accelerate passage without human intervention; furthermore an device for palm examination will be added, so that in borderline cases the person can be examined at the terminal instead of being sent to the Liaison & Coordination Administration.
An additional rule: if someone received a time-specific permit and cannot arrive on time, he can contact the Liaison & Coordination Administration and ask for an extension. S. claims he will be answered; this has to be confirmed.
18.45 The crowding at the passage has diminished. All in all some 300 workers have passed.