Tarqumiya, Wed 20.8.08, Morning

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Tamar B. and Hava T. (reporting)

Time: 5:40 A.M. – 6:30 A.M.

We drove directly to the worker’s entrance on the far side of the checkpoint. We chose two workers to follow so that we could check how long it took them to cross through the checkpoint. Back in the parking lot, about 150 workers were waiting for their rides. The atmosphere was calm. We didn’t try to approach the exit from the checkpoint itself as we had been asked not to on our previous visit. We saw “our” two workers exit after ten minutes – certainly a reasonable amount of time.

The shift director approached us and remembered Hava from previous visits. He told us that about 2000 workers had crossed since 4:30 A.M. when the checkpoint opened. He agreed that the vehicle checkpoint is still a bottleneck. The attempt to supply transportation up to the checkpoint was a failure. The drivers continue to make the circle through the occupied territories and therefore must undergo a thorough search before they enter Israeli territory. He told us that the checkpoint staff had undergone training to make them more sensitive to the workers.  For example, they learned that a non-Muslim male is allowed to touch the Koran, while a woman is not. He claimed that the search dogs do not enter the vehicles and only sniff from the outside, something the drivers have complained to us about.

We crossed the street to the vehicle examination area after he warned us not to get too close as they had received a security warning. 20 vehicles had just completed inspection and were leaving to pick up the workers waiting in the parking lot. New vehicles entered the parking lot. We watched the dog closely and, while he didn’t actually go into the vehicles, he put his front paws on the seats. The drivers complained about how much time they had to wait in line to enter the examination area. While the examination takes about 20 minutes, they have to wait in line much longer.