05:55 Barta'a Riehan checkpoint
In the upper parking lot, at the exit from the checkpoint to the seam zone, many car and taxis are waiting for the workers. People welcome us with harsh complaints about the extremely slow and crowded checkoint. We move on to the lower parking lot, at the entrance to the terminal coming from the west bank. The gate is locked and many people (we estimate about a hundred) are waiting in a terribly crowded mass, angry and complaining: the checkoint was indeed opened at 05:00, but it has been closed since.
A group of the seamstress arrives, and of course they have no chance to get through in this crowd.
5 minutes after our arrival the locked gate opens, and people stream in through the turnstiles, eight at a time. We choose a seamstress with a particularly colorful headcover as she enters, and wait to see her come out. We watch the whole line disappear, and anyone who arrives now gets in immediately.
At the truck entrance there are more than 25 vehicles with merchendise from the West Bank (mostly agricultural) going to the seam zone. At 06:00 the loudspeaker calls the first four to enter.
06:15 At the upper side of the terminal, at the exit from the checkpoint, people are coming out. They tell us about the crowded terminal inside, and about an hour's wait until they go through, in addition to the long wait before they entered it. People are very angry.
At the exit from the terminal, at the last post, an armed guard and the shift manager M. stand. At our request he comes over to us. He agrees that today it is more crowded than usually (after the closure during the holidays), and he tries to do the best he can. There is one more checking post they could open, but there is no budget to man it, according to him.
By traching the colorful-kerchiefed seamstress we calculated that it took the seamstresses 20 minutes to go through. M. tells us that in the morning he helps them get through first, but later on there was a problem. They had suggested to the managers of the sewing workshops in Barta'a to start the shift an hour later, because at 07:00 there is no pressure at the checkpoint, but it had not worked out. He also tells us that since May 1st the checkpoint is open until midnight.
A steady flow of people comes up the sleeve towards the transportation cars. Many complain about slow and crowded passage which starts even before they enter the terminal, and inside it takes up to two hours. A person approaches M. and gets the answer, that he can pass in the morning at the Barta"a checkpoint, and return through Irtah checkpoint, since both are connected to the same computer (we should check if this is correct).
06:40 People coming out are worried that they might be late for the rides to work. They emerge worried and stressed.
06:50 The pressure inside is probably over. A smiling guy tells us that there was no line at the entrance to the terminal and the passage inside was quick and took only 20 minutes. As he starts working at 07:30 he has time for coffee... He works at the cardboard factory. There is a lot of work, but the owner pays them only 15 NIS an hour, and tells them that if they don't like it they can leave.
07:00 We leave the checkpoint.
07:10 Tura Shaked checkoint
The checkpoint is open and operating. Children from the seam zone go inside the checkpoint and move on to schools in Tura. Out of the checkpoint workers exit to the seam zone. One of them is very angry at the Military Policewoman who refused to let him take with him an extra pair of clean trousers to wear after work. He tells us that he works in the field and gets dirty and he does not want to dirty the car coming back. Another person comes in a car, he is also angry, since the Military Policewoman did not let him either to take a bag with clean clothes. He did persuade her, after all, but he was very angry at the humiliating attitude.
More pupils get in and go through to Tura, a goat herd with their shepherd exit towards the seam zone, cars pass...
07:25 Most of the people have gone through.
07:35 We leave.