Makkabim (Beit Sira)
We reached the checkpoint at 06:15. It’s still dark outside.
We see Palestinians running across Highway 443; that’s very dangerous. We saw no sign of a bridge under construction, as we were promised on our last visit about a month and a half ago. They said then it would be finished in two months.
One Palestinian we spoke with while waiting said the bridge will be sealed so it won’t be possible to damage cars driving on the highway, and there will be only one exit to the checkpoint – which he says will increase congestion at peak hours.
The entry line to the checkpoint reaches the road. Lines of men carrying plastic bags and satchels patiently await their turn to enter the facility – sometimes for half an hour or longer. Some have been there since 04:30, before the checkpoint opens, to be the first to enter. That contradicts what the person in charge of the checkpoint told us – she said they tried to open earlier (they now open at 05:00) but no Palestinians came.
Those on line allow us to enter the facility before them. The lines within are very congested. The left-hand lane is narrow and crowded – it’s impossible to breathe there. The photographs don’t really show the congestion. You’ll have to believe us even without pictures…
Here’s what we heard from people on line:
1. Everything goes more slowly because we’re here – on purpose.
2. It’s not because of us; it’s like this every Sunday – maybe because some laborers come in on Sunday and return Thursday.
We timed how long it took someone to go through, from the time he entered the facility until he came out the other side. 8-10 minutes, if there’s no ID inspection (which is random), 10-15 minutes otherwise.
Add to that the time waiting outside and you get 40-50 minutes a day!
Some of the laborers are angry, others are laughing. What else can they do but laugh?
I saw on Ronit’s schedule that our shift is the only one at Macabbim this week. Might someone volunteer for an additional shift?