Tarqumiya, Sun 25.5.08, Morning
This was Amy's first time at a MachsomWatch observation, and at Tarqumiya, and my first time at the new terminal since it was opened. I wanted to show her the old CP, but all that is left are skeletons of buildings and leveled dirt where the checks were conducted.
On our way there at around 4:20, about eight transits passed us going the other way. I was outside my element for the first time in over four years while approaching the area. I had prepared myself for the eventual opening of this monster terminal, but never envisioned how the people themselves would pass through, or when we would stand. It's hard to see where the line starts as you arrive, and settlers passing through could actually drive by without much ado because the road to the settlements is not directly next to the terminal. There is a small sign in Hebrew commemorating 25 years of the Mt. Hebron Regional Council past the terminal, and gone is the Arabic sign that encouraged "coexistence" and a flower...
At 4:30 it is still pitch black and there are numerous lines leading to an enclosure that cannot be viewed from outside of it. One Palestinian wearing a reflective vest stands on a chair and bids the men to stand in two lines, which they do, so that they don't get crushed while entering the first section of the check. He allows me to stand on the chair in order to get a view of the inside of the enclosure. There the men (all over 30, and all married with children - otherwise you can't get a work permit) stand in snaking lines with bars. It is very crowded. The men who successfully pass through that stage run to the next set of metal revolving turnstiles, and there too, wait.
As we ask some questions, and get some opinions of this new terminal, two men return from the check and report to their friends that the passes were not valid, or that the fingerprint check was what was sending them home for the day.
On the other side of the terminal where the transits are checked with dogs, and given a complete pat down (i.e. engine, trunk, seats...), men are waiting for the final ride to their workday. They said that Sundays were the hardest because a lot of the people were going into Israel for the week. On other days there are far less workers passing through. They said that the people stationed at the terminal are polite and efficient. The only problem they see is that the stations are not all open on Sunday morning, many people have rides who wait for them until a certain time, and if the men see that they will not get through in time they return home.
We passed out some calling cards of MW, and had our MW flags waving proudly. At a certain point Amy and I looked up and the area was fully lit. We shared with one another that we didn't even notice the sunrise. It's hard to count the amount of people passing through, (approximately 2,000) and the amount of time it takes for them to get to their rides. But according to their stories, it is an ordeal of at least two hours on Sundays before they begin their journey to work.