Reihan, Shaked, Sun 22.6.08, Morning
Ruti T, Chana H (reporting))
05:55 - 08:50
05:55 Reihan Checkpoint
Workers waiting for transport in the upper parking lot. The checkpoint opened at 05:00, but the x-ray machine is not working, again, and most of the men and all the women are being checked in side rooms. The people coming out are reporting a short stay inside the terminal.
06:10 – rate of exit from the terminal is 125 people an hour (a half what was promised). Those coming out now are reporting a longer stay inside (30 minutes) and great pressure in the terminal.
We hear the shouting. Only one window is working, and even there the woman working has little to do. One man comes out with a young child "by virtue of whom he was not delayed for long." There is also crowding at the entrance to the terminal. Two workers in a Haifa restaurant arrive with a load of pitas and empty containers. They pass immediately into the West Bank, using terminal wagons.
06:20 – light traffic in both directions at the vehicle checkpoint. Three private cars are being checked at the entry to the Seam Zone.
06:25 – some 40 people standing in the (lower) Palestinian parking lot, next to the closed main gate – some already there 30 minutes. A big group are now taken in, but delayed at the entrance to the terminal itself, where 20 more people are already waiting. Nine pick up trucks loaded with goods are waiting for inspection. An Israeli semitrailer travelling from the West Bank to Israel is directed to a side lane and checked with a mirror and dog.
06:45 – a taxi arrives from Bartaa with passengers, and is checked at the vehicle checkpoint while the passengers wait in the garden. There are still 15 people waiting by the main entrance gate.
06:55 Shaked Checkpoint
The checkpoint gates are already open. Four men and a donkey are waiting art the turnstile, and 15 men are by the gate on the West Bank side. Meanwhile, only four cars pass from the West Bank to the Seam Zone – checking time for each, two minutes. Seems to us that there is a problem with the inspection room.
At 07:08, the first worker crosses into the Seam Zone but then again there is a long break. Meanwhile 30 people are trying to cross. Transit to the seam Zone is only renewed at 07:16 and, slowly, the rate materialises at 1-2 minutes. At 07:10 two taxis arrive with students and others from the Seam Zone to Jenin, and another with teachers. The taxis are taken in immediately, one after the other. The students pass without inspection in the side rooms, but the other people are directed in. The first taxi, with passengers, leaves at 07:16, and the second at 07:20. At 07:25, when we leave, 15 people are still waiting to pass from the West Bank to the Seam Zone.
07:35 Reihan Checkpoint
At the vehicle checkpoint in the direction of the West Bank, a taxi is being checked, with the passengers waiting alongside. Three cars are being checked in the dirction of the Seam Zone. The bus from Bartaa to Jenin arrives and is checked with its passengers at the vehicle checkpoint. In the closed compound, four pick up trucks are being checked, having entered at 07:00. They exit for Bartaa at 07:50, and four more plus a Transit are taken into the compound. Six pick ups with produce are waiting in the parking lot.
07:50 – there is nobody by the main gate at the lower end of the checkpoint, but 20 are waiting at the entrance to the terminal. The rate of exit to the Seam Zone is not constant, a burst of 15 people, then no one. The main gate closes, and only people from the Seam Zone to the West Bank are passing through. Again eight people exit to the Seam Zone, followed by another break. Again people collect at the closed gate. A military commandcar circulates in the Palestinian parking lot. Despite everything, the operations supervisor is only bothered that we cross the checkpoint so often.
At 08:20 we go down the sleeve to check what is happening at the checkpoint and why there are such delays. Loud shouts in the terminal. One of the workers explains to us that not only is the famous machine not working, but other equipment has broken down, and they are opening an alternative lane, but "it’s taking time." Sharon tells me that the heat affects the electronics equipment, and is the cause of the frequent breakdowns. We hope they will put some air conditioners into the terminal this summer. Regular transit renews at 08:30, and we identify among the people exiting some who have been there an hour, while others report two hours. Today no one comes out smiling. According to their complaints, if Sharon was physically present, transit would have been faster. There were no more breaks until we left.
08:50 – no people at the main gate, but there are still people at the entrance to the terminal. A lot of people, men, women and children, are now crossing from the Seam Zone to the West Bank.