'Anabta, Irtah, Jubara (Kafriat), Tue 9.12.08, Afternoon
Translation: Galia S.It's a rainy and cold holiday [the Muslim Holiday of Sacrifice]. Irtah checkpoint (Efrayim Gate) 13:10 – The activity at the checkpoint is dragging along. The few people that pass here have to wait a long time before someone pays attention to them. From the direction of Tulkarm the turnstiles are empty. Only one person is waiting to enter the DCO [District Coordination Office of the IDF Civil Administration that handles passage permits]. He says he has been waiting for a while and thinks that perhaps it is closed because of the holiday. It turns out later on that the place operates and the people have only taken a lunch break.
In the shed at the checkpoint parking lot we see families who have passed the checkpoint and wish, on the occasion of the holiday, to visit relatives who live within the boundaries of the Green Line. They tell us they had been forced to wait with their small kids in the rain, outside the turnstiles, for well over an hour, before they were allowed to pass. They also complain about the unsympathetic way they were treated at the checkpoint.
A family arrives and tries to go back through the checkpoint. The door is closed and no one answers. We call the IDF Humanitarian Center and they tell us that since the checkpoint has been privatized, such problems are not their responsibility. We go to the guard standing outside, who calls the deputy security officer of the private security company to come right away. He claims that there are no delays and the doors were closed because they were taking a lunch break. According to him, everyone has already passed, including those waiting to enter the DCO.
13:40 – About 8 cars are waiting in line to pass the checkpoint. One of the inspection lanes serves mainly Palestinians with Israeli ID cards. The other lane, which is for Jewish cars, is empty most of the time. Once in a while a settlers' car gets to this lane, undergoes a brief check and continues fast on its way. In the meantime, the line in the other inspection lane is getting longer.
We enter gate 573 (the Schoolchildren's Gate). There is scarcely any traffic of cars or pedestrians there.
14:20 - Over 30 cars are waiting to enter Tulkarm. At the exit the number of cars in line to leave is doubled. In accordance with the easements instituted on the occasion of the Muslim holidays, Israelis are allowed to enter. A short time after we arrive, they speed up the checking, probably because of our presence there. When we leave, only few cars remain in line both at the entrance and at the exit.
Next to the checkpoint there is a police jeep and the policeman sitting in it is writing a ticket to a Palestinian who left Tulkarm with a baby in his car without the special safety seat for babies. The Palestinian has been standing in the rain for about half an hour while the policeman in the jeep has been writing the ticket. Only towards the end he invites the man to come and sit next to him in the jeep.