06:30 Reihan Checkpoint
More workers than usual are sitting on the curb in the upper parking lot, waiting for their colleagues who still stuck in the terminal checking rooms, before calling their employer to come and get them. The terminal did open at 05:00, but the "new" xray machine didn’t work, so they reverted to checking in the rooms, which takes longer and makes the inspection conditions worse – after they were improved for a short while.
We wanted to understand the bitterness, and asked in more detail about the procedure in the rooms. This is what we heard: they put men in not very big rooms in groups of 24 ("like sardines"), and then take eight into a smaller room, where their belongings are inspected on a table, and then another eight, and so on. We did not understand whether the group that had been checked were then returned to the larger room, or whether they were released.
We descended the sleeve. For some minutes no one came out. Only one window is functioning in the terminal. People are crowded in front of it. They put their palms on a biometer (which identifies fingerprints), pass their IDs through the window, where they are checked against the computer and returned, then they go out through the turnstile. On the upper floor an armed guard is circulating. He apparently noticed us and sent somebody, who came quickly to drive us out, using aggressive tones. We didn’t argue. We asked why they didn’t open another window, and after a few minutes they did just that, but by the woman got organized and was instructed, the pressure subsided, and so only one window remained active. And then we heard from an armed employee who came over, disgruntled: "There is no other checkpoint where you are treated with such respect, and you misuse it to enter out-of-bounds places."
By 07:30 most of the people were through, and when we went to the lower parking lot we saw light, routine traffic in both directions.
Recently they have begun inspecting agricultural produce at 06:00, and there were only three or four pickups in the lot. Inspection of private cars was also flowing, with none waiting.
07:50 Shaked Checkpoint
Little traffic. Few cars, few people. But when we passed the gate, we were told in no uncertain language to stay behind the gate. Again we saw no reason to argue.
We encountered H., on his bike. Tami remembered how a year ago his mood was bad because of his economic situation. Today it is better. In good, up-to-date Hebrew he told us the problem: he and his sons worked in construction for a contractor from Israel (incidentally, a relative of his from Wadi Ara), and the latter delayed payments, and still owes 45 thousand shekels. The matter is being dealt with by a lawyer (perhaps from Kav L’Oved – Workers’ Line) in Tel Aviv. He sent all the papers by fax, but is asking him to come to sign the documents, and he does not have an entry permit for Israel. Tami advised him on how to request the permit (she said for one day, but with a smile he responded with a wish for a week).
P., from whom we sometimes buy samples of her cooking, also had a request: her son has a skin problem, and the cure is to wipe sea water over the skin. Solution suggested by Tami: I will bring sea salt, and you mix it with tap water, which will give you sea water. In any case, we cannot bring sea water because of the jelly-fish infestation.
Another problem encountered is the difficulty to pay police fines when there is no access to a post office. That solution is well known: we serve as messengers.
On the face of it, small problems, but how they make life difficult...