Tarqumiya, Thu 24.1.08, Morning

Hava T. and Varda Sh. (reporting)

We arrived at 5:45. From the road we could sense that the situation was bad. There were many transports waiting for the workers.  We estimated that there were some 700 workers waiting in line. The line extended far beyond the covered area.  The men we spoke to said they had waited over two hours.

The officer in charge explained that the reason for the crowding was a new order he had received from headquarters forbidding the border police soldiers to check papers outside the small checkpost.  Only one soldier is allowed to check papers outside, because more cannot be guarded sufficiently. As a result, only four border police do the checking, three inside the protected structure and one outside.  We timed the number of workers passing through the checkpost at 18 per minute.

The workers were very bitter about having to wait for such a long time in the extreme cold. From time to time we heard shouting at the end of line and the soldiers stopped checking papers until the situation calmed down.  The officer in charge said he planned to bring the matter up to the command, since Sunday, when things are even more crowded, may be very bad.

The workers complained to us about the situation and asked us to help. We phoned one of the numbers we had on the list that seemed appropriate – the spokesperson for the Judah Brigade. We explained the problem to someone named Zvi. We tried a few more numbers, but none were working.

Because of the extreme cold, we left around 6:40.  There was still a long line with no sign of an end in sight.