Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Irtah/ Sha’ar Efrayim dawn
05.00 Pitch-dark and raining. Before arriving at the parking lot we already saw quite some women and a few men coming towards us. It turned out the Terminal opened a quarter of an hour earlier than usual, now also on Friday, at 4.45. (week-days 3.45) From a distance it looked as if we could not pass the “hangar” next to the buildings of the Department of Transportation, but the passage towards our usual observation-point near the Palestinian side was only partially closed by a gate. The construction of the new entrance (on area C) progresses slowly. It now shows 6 arches of the future passageways of which 2 are in front of the Terminal entrance. Not clear yet how the other 4 will be connected to the Terminal. Because of the rain there were fewer workers arriving and no crowding: everyone could enter the Terminal quickly. We took some pictures of logos of the companies that operate at the checkpoint, as was discussed a week ago in a meeting with a representative of “Who Profits”. Not easy to find these though.
05.15 We go to the exit side.
On the renewed parking lot is now a large shed where many Palestinians can find shelter against the rain; good! But prompt at the narrow exit from the fenced-in grounds of the Terminal that all the Palestinians pass through, is a large puddle which makes it almost impossible to pass without getting one’s feet wet. Near the kiosk many laborers take shelter under the roofing there, as they do near the exit-carrousel. We ask someone, who understands Hebrew, if he knows any Palestinian worker at the settlements. We wanted to inquire about extra fees for the laborers which apparently have to be paid there to security companies. He says no-one at Irtach-Terminal-crossing works there and cannot answer that question. He tells us he is being paid every 45 days and days he is sick or does not work for any other reason are being deducted from that salary; he and his colleagues earn between 150-200 a day . His work-permit is being paid by his employer. Palestinians with a “merchant-permit” get paid per day and more, but have to pay their own health-insurance and social security.
As there do not seem any special problems and the flow of (fewer) workers is steady and little space anyhow for people to find shelter against the pouring rain we leave early.