Makkabim (Beit Sira)
We arrived about 5 minutes after the opening of the checkpoint and already there were about 20 workers who had passed through. At the entrance there is short line. Generally speaking, it looks as if today there are far fewer people than usual and the lines are shorter. Is it because fewer work permits are being issued? Is it due to the freezing cold or to events that have taken place that night in Jenin and Kalkilia? It is unclear. The workers asked us to come on Sunday when it’s really crowded. We plan to do this next shift.
For about 20 minutes workers were passing through without anyone asking to inspect their ID and the line moved swiftly. If this were routine, passage would indeed be much quicker.
Bitter cold outside and inside the checkpoint, but everyone must take off their winter clothes – coats, gloves, hats, tracksuits, shirts, scarves, and place them on the x-ray device. Whoever is wearing high work boots must take them off as well. And so they are left to stand in the freezing cold, wearing only a shorts, t-shirts, and socks on the freezing cement floor. These were the complaints we heard.
Whoever has a bag olives in his bag, or any suspicious food, is called to place the bag in the inspection room. One of the workers was asked to put his cooler in for inspection. He quickly dressed again before he gave them the bag for inspection and immediately we heard loud calls on the speaker “What are you wearing? Pass the bag through!” The worker answered in Hebrew “But I’m cold”, but it didn’t matter. He was ordered to submit the bag and only after that he could get dressed again.
When we left the checkpoint the sun was already shining and on Road 443 there was q lot of traffic. Once again we witnessed vehicles speeding on the three-lane road and Palestians running, trying to get across without getting run over.
At the side of the road there is digging and construction activity. Could this be the start of the passenger crossing that’s been promised? We can only hope.