Hashmonaim (Ni'ilin), Makkabim (Beit Sira)
Observers: Rony G., Michal H. (reporting), Translator: Charles K.
We reached the checkpoint at 06:00. There were fewer cars and Palestinian laborers than usual in the parking lot.
We left the car, walked toward the checkpoint. The shift manager approached us; we’d met him previously.
He helped us understand the inspection procedure. It includes a security check and a “smart card” check. For the security check a Palestinian submits his green ID and waits for it to be returned. Since this stage is classified we aren’t able to observe how long it takes. Sometimes the Palestinian must wait a long time so a crowd forms of people waiting who become annoyed, as we saw when we went through inspection on previous visits. The “smart card” check is quick; it’s a biometric check (of the thumb). The Palestinian’s information appears on the screen, including the entry permit (tasrich in Arabic). He doesn’t have to show it but he must have it with him in case he’s asked for it while in Israel.
There’s no humanitarian gate at the Maccabim checkpoint. The few women crossing there are treated respectfully by the Palestinians. If someone arrives in a wheelchair he receives special treatment by the checkpoint staff. Such cases are most likely on days when visits to prisoners are permitted.
The shift manager tells us there are plans to turn the vehicle checkpoint over to a civilian company, and enlarge it.
Construction of the pedestrian bridge over Highway 443 has been completed. The manager says it opened about a month ago.
We went through the vehicle crossing toward the pedestrian bridge. A narrow walkway a few dozen meters in length with a fence on either side has been put in place on the sidewalk between the bridge and the inspection station. People pass directly to the entrance. During our next shift we’ll try to find out why they installed that route between the fences.
On our way back to the car we passed an armed guard holding his weapon pointing at the ground, as he should.
A Palestinian complained inspection took a very long time on a previous day – about three hours.
We arrived at 06:45. There weren’t many Palestinians or cars in the parking lot.
We noticed that the bathrooms were closed. A Palestinian told us they were closed because they were leaking and dirty.
One man complained about the body scanner. Unfortunately, we could say only that it was being dealt with.