Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Fri 5.7.13, Morning
Palestinians: easy prey for blackmail….*
Irtah/Sha'ar Efrayim dawn shift.
05.00 On our way to the fence from where we can observe the Palestinians enter, we see, just like two weeks ago, under the large gateway an army Hummer parked. Problems ahead?** On the Palestinian side the pathway leading towards the first turnstiles is no longer fenced-in and the organized queue starts only there where railing is for a queue of one by one person “the snake”; no “Women’s- gate” any longer.
05.03 The turnstiles are opened. The area between the turnstiles and the magnometer is clean today.
We decide to concentrate on the exit side and the parking lot this morning -and at
05.07 the first lady already exits, followed by 8 men: 4 minutes! “You are the first” we say to her, which she repeats, happily laughing, to her friend who exits a few minutes later. One lady we “followed” passes the Terminal in 10 minutes, but a younger man who entered at the same time exits only after 25 min. We hear that at least 6 or 8 lanes are open and the checking is done efficiently. Is there at last more personal working in the Terminal ??
05.18 We see the first - FULL!- transit already leaving. Those laborers working in Haifa and surroundings are in a hurry as there are only 2-4 transits travelling there and if they miss those they will have to wait an hour!
05.35 All gates of the enclosed waiting - and parking -area are suddenly locked and everyone inside is no longer free to go. The Palestinians are used to these “whims of the Occupation” but we want to know the reason. The guard, though, does not grant us an answer. (Later on when I ask him why he does not talk to us he says “I was busy”.) Fortunately after 3 min. the gates are unchained again.
A Palestinian worker complains and asks if we can help him. The employer who organized his work-permit “lends” him to a colleague who has more work, but the Palestinian must now pay not only the 1500 shekel (!) for the permit, but an extra 1000 to the original employer as well, “take it or leave it ”. If the army uses the permits to get the Palestinians to work for the “shabak”, why should an Israeli employer not also take advantage of the Palestinians! These are the wheeling's and dealings around the permits! We gave the worker the number of Kav La'Oved.
** Half way through our shift around 05.45, we now see the Hummer speeding down the hill to where it was standing at our arrival and 4 soldiers getting out and walking towards the separation fence. We hear a lot of noise coming from the Palestinian side and want to see if anything is the matter. “What are you doing here? You are not allowed to be here” we are being told in an authoritarian way. The soldiers must be new, they never heard of MachsomWatch. As there seems nothing special the matter we return to the parking-lot. Will this be what to expect in the future? Later on this bragging group of soldiers speeds by in their Hummer, through the crowd, with a lot of braking and hooting noise, almost crashing into but just avoiding the barrier.
We will contact Neta Golan to see if she can help with the son of a Palestinian laborer who told us his son was not allowed to pass at the checkpoint at Barta’a/Reikhan in spite of his 6-month-valid-permit.
We met a Palestinian laborer who rides his bicycle from Irtah to Tel Mond where he works in agriculture; it takes him one hour to get there, but makes him dependent only of his bicycle!
When we leave at 06.10 am we see there are almost double the number of transits, cars and even busses waiting to transport all the Palestinians. Is this because of the nearing Ramadan?
For about 20 minutes more, Leora tries to influence the -almost all of them Ethiopian- guards’-mindset to, at least, not generalize. One literally said: “every Palestinian I see here will murder me (if he has the opportunity)”. How can they think otherwise as their whole training is based on seeing the whole Palestinian population as “The Enemy”?!