Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)

Observers: 
Nurit P. (camera), Hadas C., Mor A. (new member), Devorka A. (reporting), Translation: Judith Green
Oct-12-2014
|
Morning

 

Irtach

 

Thousands of Palestinians are waiting at the checkpoint, the first Sunday after the holiday of Id Al-Adhah.  It is clear that they have been taught to be disciplined...they must submit to unhuman conditions which Israel dictates in exchange for the chance of bringing in a small amount of money for their families.  Two men fainted, one received treatment after quite a while.  The "Big Brother" wasn't visible in the area, but his commands are heard via a loud speaker, not politely.  There is a lot of anger among the workers to whom we spoke.

 

04:10  When we arrived, we could already hear from afar the loud noise of the people in line.  From afar we could also see the young men jumping over the shed, helped by ropes from above and having to cope with the barbed wire by means of tin cans, some of which fall onto the cement surface of the courtyard below with a loud crash.

 

As we know, the metal sheets fixed along the section where they are building now also mask sections of the line.  Only about  a meter and a half remains of the space of the locked gate through which it is possible to see only the end of the line before the turnstiles. Into the back half of the enclosed space, narrow and cramped, everyone is shoved and compressed - dozens of Palestinians who have finally been able to get this far.  From here, they continue through the turnstiles and the electronic gate to the inspection area.  When we arrived, the line was moving slowly.  Only one turnstile was in operation, and each group contained about 50 people.  At 04:45, 2 more turnstiles were opened and about 100 people could go through at once toward the inspection area.

 

The crowding and confusion were horrible, and caused two young men to faint: one, in the interior inspection area, as the workers related when they came out of this torture chamber.  The second one we saw after he had collapsed, when he passed through the turnstile and the electronic gate.  He was lying on the ground and a few Palestinians came to his aid by picking up his legs and supporting him, so that his blood could stream back into his head.  All around were shouts, also at us, to call an ambulance.  We tried to contact the DCO of Ephraim, and the general number of the DCO office, without success.  At this time there is not anyone answering the phone.  After 15 minutes, we realized that none of the guards were coming, and they only gave instructions on the loud speaker to the Palestinians that were helping him that they should leave the location and continue on their path.  We screamed at the "Big Brother" somewhere in the guard towers that he should do something;  a few minutes later, (perhaps by coincidence?), two armed guards appeared in the area "cleaned" of workers, along with another man holding a bag, perhaps a First Aid kit.  After a brief inspection, they called an ambulance and a few minutes later, stretcher bearers from the Red Crescent arrived and took him on a stretcher out of there through the electronic gate, which is usually locked, to a waiting ambulance.

 

After watching this behavior, it was clearer than ever that no one from "our forces" cared about what was happening, whether or not another anonymous Palestinian might collapse at the checkpoint because of the suffocating and unhuman conditions which we have created for him.

 

05:30  The workers continue to be pressed through the 3 turnstiles.  They said that they estimate that another 3000 - 4000 people were waiting outside.  At this hour, one could no longer see the young men on the top of the enclosure.

 

While talking to some of the workers outside, after they had already made their way through this hell and were now waiting for the contractor who would pick them up, we heard a lot of discouragement and anger and a few words of wisdom.  They said that they had waited at the checkpoint since 03:00-03:30, after getting up at 02:00.

 

An older worker asked, in anger, "Why, when we have already entered the enclosure, do they imprison us?  20 men in rooms of 22 sq. meters, for 20-30 minutes, after we have already waited hours outside?"  And he continued, "We are also guilty in that we have not worked together to make changes in the situation.  About 4 years ago we went on strike, and, after a few days, the Israeli contractors put pressure on the IDF and then, suddenly, the conditions at the checkpoint improved, but only for a short time.  Now the same horrible situation has returned."  He asked what we could do to help.  We said that we could mainly tell the story to the world about what they are suffering.

 

A younger man, even more angry said "They really want us to suffer."  He told us about another man who had fainted, within the inspection station, and emphasized that it was a young man.  He also explained that whereas there are 12 inspection booths, only 6 were in operation, and that is why the line outside was endless.

 

He was also very angry at Abu Mazen and the rest of the PA.  He said that while the workers were being tortured at the checkpoint at 04:00  they were sleeping soundly in their beds.  He and his friends are convinced that this is of no interest to Abu Mazen, who doesn't want to change the situation and isn't working toward any solution, because that way he can continue to grow rich.

 

He continued to complain, in good Hebrew, and gave convincing explanations.  Among other things, he said that for 20 years he had been working in Israel without any permit, and even had been caught several times.  At the end of the conversation, after he had poured his heart out, his transport arrived and, before he left us, it was also important for him to tell us with great pride that, despite all this, he succeeded in supporting his family and even sent 3 of his older children to university.  His spirit seemed to rise by the end of the conversation, after we had listened to him and, of course, we agreed with what he had to say about the occupation.  On his way to his transport, he parted from us with a broad smile and some compliments for the humanity of the Israelis in comparison to their own...a lot of abheard via a loud speaker, not politely.  There is a lot of anger among the workers to whom we spoke.

 

04:10  When we arrived, we could already hear from afar the loud noise of the people in line.  From afar we could also see the young men jumping over the shed, helped by ropes from above and having to cope with the barbed wire by means of tin cans, some of which fall onto the cement surface of the courtyard below with a loud crash.

 

As we know, the metal sheets fixed along the section where they are building now also mask sections of the line.  Only about  a meter and a half remains of the space of the locked gate through which it is possible to see only the end of the line before the turnstiles. Into the back half of the enclosed space, narrow and cramped, everyone is shoved and compressed - dozens of Palestinians who have finally been able to get this far.  From here, they continue through the turnstiles and the electronic gate to the inspection area.  When we arrived, the line was moving slowly.  Only one turnstile was in operation, and each group contained about 50 people.  At 04:45, 2 more turnstiles were opened and about 100 people could go through at once toward the inspection area.

 

The crowding and confusion were horrible, and caused two young men to faint: one, in the interior inspection area, as the workers related when they came out of this torture chamber.  The second one we saw after he had collapsed, when he passed through the turnstile and the electronic gate.  He was lying on the ground and a few Palestinians came to his aid by picking up his legs and supporting him, so that his blood could stream back into his head.  All around were shouts, also at us, to call an ambulance.  We tried to contact the DCO of Ephraim, and the general number of the DCO office, without success.  At this time there is not anyone answering the phone.  After 15 minutes, we realized that none of the guards were coming, and they only gave instructions on the loud speaker to the Palestinians that were helping him that they should leave the location and continue on their path.  We screamed at the "Big Brother" somewhere in the guard towers that he should do something;  a few minutes later, (perhaps by coincidence?), two armed guards appeared in the area "cleaned" of workers, along with another man holding a bag, perhaps a First Aid kit.  After a brief inspection, they called an ambulance and a few minutes later, stretcher bearers from the Red Crescent arrived and took him on a stretcher out of there through the electronic gate, which is usually locked, to a waiting ambulance.

 

After watching this behavior, it was clearer than ever that no one from "our forces" cared about what was happening, whether or not another anonymous Palestinian might collapse at the checkpoint because of the suffocating and unhuman conditions which we have created for him.

 

05:30  The workers continue to be pressed through the 3 turnstiles.  They said that they estimate that another 3000 - 4000 people were waiting outside.  At this hour, one could no longer see the young men on the top of the enclosure.

 

While talking to some of the workers outside, after they had already made their way through this hell and were now waiting for the contractor who would pick them up, we heard a lot of discouragement and anger and a few words of wisdom.  They said that they had waited at the checkpoint since 03:00-03:30, after getting up at 02:00.

 

An older worker asked, in anger, "Why, when we have already entered the enclosure, do they imprison us?  20 men in rooms of 22 sq. meters, for 20-30 minutes, after we have already waited hours outside?"  And he continued, "We are also guilty in that we have not worked together to make changes in the situation.  About 4 years ago we went on strike, and, after a few days, the Israeli contractors put pressure on the IDF and then, suddenly, the conditions at the checkpoint improved, but only for a short time.  Now the same horrible situation has returned."  He asked what we could do to help.  We said that we could mainly tell the story to the world about what they are suffering.

 

A younger man, even more angry said "They really want us to suffer."  He told us about another man who had fainted, within the inspection station, and emphasized that it was a young man.  He also explained that whereas there are 12 inspection booths, only 6 were in operation, and that is why the line outside was endless.

 

He was also very angry at Abu Mazen and the rest of the PA.  He said that while the workers were being tortured at the checkpoint at 04:00  they were sleeping soundly in their beds.  He and his friends are convinced that this is of no interest to Abu Mazen, who doesn't want to change the situation and isn't working toward any solution, because that way he can continue to grow rich.

 

He continued to complain, in good Hebrew, and gave convincing explanations.  Among other things, he said that for 20 years he had been working in Israel without any permit, and even had been caught several times.  At the end of the conversation, after he had poured his heart out, his transport arrived and, before he left us, it was also important for him to tell us with great pride that, despite all this, he succeeded in supporting his family and even sent 3 of his older children to university.  His spirit seemed to rise by the end of the conversation, after we had listened to him and, of course, we agreed with what he had to say about the occupation.  On his way to his transport, he parted from us with a broad smile and some compliments for the humanity of the Israelis in comparison to their own...a lot of absurdities during one shift.

 

At 06:10, according to the Palestinians, there were still a few thousand waiting in line.  We departed

anations.  Among other things, he said that for 20 years he had been working in Israel without any permit, and even had been caught several times.  At the end of the conversation, after he had poured his heart out, his transport arrived and, before he left us, it was also important for him to tell us with great pride that, despite all this, he succeeded in supporting his family and even sent 3 of his older children to university.  His spirit seemed to rise by the end of the conversation, after we had listened to him and, of course, we agreed with what he had to say about the occupation.  On his way to his transport, he parted from us with a broad smile and some compliments for the humanity of the Israelis in comparison to their own...a lot of absurdities during one shift.

 

At 06:10, according to the Palestinians, there were still a few thousand waiting in line.  We departed.