'Anabta, Azzun, Irtah, יום ד' 14.5.08, בוקר
A slow manual body search of workers at Eliyahu Passage.
Is it possible to talk to the commander of the Military Police in the area to try and change the situation?
A "rolling" [unannounced mobile] roadblock at Beit Lid junction.
An unreasonable, hour long detention of a car at Anabta checkpoint.
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor charges IS 1,000.00 a month for each Palestinian worker in Israel.
Qalqiliya Passage (Eliyahi Passage)
07:00 – Despite the "closure" of Israel [blanket restriction of passage regardless of permits], the passage of workers to the settlements continues. About 300 workers have passed. They claim that some of them have been waiting since 05:00. The checkpoint was opened at 06:10 today, but the military policeman says it was opened at 05:00. If this is true, then why is the check so slow? What we see is that the workers, waiting behind the fence, are allowed to get out one by one and go to the military policeman, who writes down the details of each one in a notebook (unbelievable, in the time of the computer!!!). After that, they go to a cabin, where a military policeman checks the magnetic card and the permits on the computer. We will try to find out if it is possible to help and speed up the check.
A resident of the seam-line zone who returns home (with all the proper permits) complains that he has been sent to stand in line with the workers, which means he will be detained for another hour or two.
We don't enter Qalqiliya checkpoint for lack of time.
Irtah Passage (Efrayim)
We don't visit Irtah but at Beit Iba we have a long talk with a Palestinian contractor who passes there with his workers. He claims that the passage takes him more than 2 hours every day. He arrives around 04:00 in the morning and leaves approximately at 06:30. The main problem is that they start checking at 05:30 – 06:00 and the check itself inside the facility takes 20-30 minutes. I hear another story from a Palestinian friend I talk to, who also passes at Irtah. According to him, the passage opens around 04:30 in the morning. He arrives at 06:45 when there are scarcely any people in line. It takes him between 15 and 60 minutes at the most.
We hear from the same contractor, who employs 9 workers, that in the past he had more workers but their working permits have been revoked. He pays the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor IS 1,050.00 a month for each worker. For the last 3 months, the contractors have been obliged to pay for at least 20 days a month charging a fee of IS 53.00 per day. For the magnetic card they pay IS 140.00. A construction worker earns IS 4,000.00 – 6,000.00 a month, which is three or four times as much as the average wage in the territories. They get no social benefits.
The western entrance is open and there is no blockade on the road parallel to road 55 from the direction of Izbet Tabib. The main entrance is still blocked by an earth rampart and barbed wire.
The road that leads from Funduq and serves as an exit to road 55 is open.
From the road we don't see anyone walking around near the pink building of the illegal outpost that has been evacuated more than ten times. It doesn't mean it is abandoned.
The entrance to Beit Lid from road 557
07:55 – A "rolling"[unannounced mobile] roadblock. A line of 5 – 7 cars from the direction of Jit. When we return from Beit Iba at 10:50, the situation is the same.
08:05 – 09:00 – When we arrive, over 20 cars from the direction of Tulkarm are waiting. The checkpoint commander, a lieutenant, lets them pass quickly almost without delay. From the other direction, the passage is even quicker.
A Palestinian private car stands on the roadside. Four not very young men dressed in elegant outfit, compared to what people usually wear in the territories, and look like professionals with prestige, are in the car. The checkpoint commander doesn't answer our questions and when I walk to the car to find out what is going on, he throws me out, remaining adamant and saying it prevents him from carrying out his duty although the car stands on the road shoulders and I stand behind it. The men say that one document ahs been taken away from them and they have been waiting for about 15 minutes. Twenty minutes have passed and the car is still here. We call the IDF Humanitarian Center. The checkpoint commander suggests that the driver leave and the owner of the document stay. The driver refuses. About 10 minutes later we want to leave and only take a telephone number so we can find out when they are going to be released. The checkpoint commander wouldn't let it. He shouts and threatens with calling the police (I say it's OK with us), finally coming up with the ultimate threat that he will stop the checkpoint activity altogether. I explain to him that this is illegal and that we will complain about it. I also say that we will show him the legal adviser's letter. This works and he immediately continues with the checking.
In the meantime, I take the telephone number, go back to stand on the other side of the road and we talk with the car driver on the phone. We get a call from the brigade spokeswoman who asks us what happened (It seems that the commander asked the advanced command post to call the police and they turned to her). We ask her, too, to find out why the car has been detained for such a long time. An hour later, at 08:55, the document is returned. Inbal has a talk with the checkpoint commander, who says that he is not responsible for the detention as he has only been waiting for an answer from the advanced command post. Tomer, from the Humanitarian Center, says he was told that the detention was punishments for disobeying the soldiers' instructions at the checkpoint, which seems unthinkable to us – grown up people who have prestige do not play games with the soldiers at the checkpoint. The checkpoint commander hasn't mentioned anything like this. And he doesn't seem to us to be a liar.
We don't enter Ar-Ras. From the main road we see one car waiting at the checkpoint.