Makkabim (Beit Sira)
We arrived about five minutes after the checkpoint opened and saw that a few laborers had gone through. About 60 people on line at the entrance. All appear tired and desperate. The two inspection booths are open.
About ten people at a time are being detained, seemingly at random, for inspection of IDs. This time one group was detained for 20 minutes. Their names were called and they stood opposite the inspection windows. They were asked to empty their pockets (wallets, telephones, cigarettes) and pass their contents through the drawer used for IDs to be inspected. Their belongings were returned after about 20 minutes and they were allowed to continue. Other people kept going through the two inspection stations.
One of the inspectors suddenly announced she’d heard a laborer (an older man with white hair) curse her. She told him over the loudspeaker, “Just as we treat you respectfully, you should behave respectfully to us.” We thought he went through but then saw him sent back. He left quickly; we weren’t able to talk to him. Everything happened very fast; we felt very frustrated at not understanding in time what was going on so we could do something.
At this point we went into the inspection area and asked to speak to Aharon, the checkpoint commander. They told us he wasn’t there, but when Sheli insisted on obtaining his phone number or email address to leave him a message, the woman in charge of the shift came out to speak with us. It was very important for her to hear our impressions, “if everything was ok today.” We tried to talk to her about the laborer who wasn’t allowed through; she said the DCO authorized her not to let him cross. We tried to explain that what’s involved is a day of work of a man who probably has many people to support but she insisted that “these are people who cross regularly, we know them and expect them to behave respectfully.” She said he’ll be allowed through tomorrow.
She said more than 1100 Palestinians crossed during the hour and a half the checkpoint had been open.
N.B. to other observers at this checkpoint: She told us that at 08:00 relatives arrive to visit prisoners in Israeli jails. We’ll try to be here later on our next shift.