Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
"Open the Baka checkpoint or, the best choice, remove the occupation!" This is what a worker said to us when coming out of his village next to Jenin at 2:00 AM. How right he is...
4:10 Darkness. Many men coming out from the inspection, carrying small food containers in their hands or a bag with meals in it. They close their belts and shoes at the same time as they are walking quickly towards their transport. The result of the careful inspection process.
At the front of the structure, on the cement plaza, rows of men are sleeping. They are trying to make up for lost sleep of the previous night while awaiting their transportation, trying to gain strength for the long day's work in front of them. Up until 5:00, the process is quick. We time 2 workers who went through within 4-5 minutes. The line before the inspection booth is thin, the turnstyle is moving quickly. All of a sudden - everything comes to a halt. Someone is turned back on his tracks, and he can only go through the way he came in. Everyone waits for the traffic to start up again. This happens several times.
On the other side of the separation wall between the Palestinians and the Israelis there are 2 young women standing and a youth. They are church volunteers. They are living in Tulkarm and come on Sunday every other week to observe at the checkpoint. On the other days, they are at the northern checkpoint, Dir Luckson, Atil, Cephin, Zeita and others. We exchange phone numbers and details and ask them to photograph what is happening on the Palestinian side for us. A young Palestinian boy joins them, Japper, shows interest in us and what we are doing.
4:45 The line becomes longer and irritable. The timing now is a quarter of an hour and then, at 5:15, it will be 20 minutes, and that is only counting from the moment that the workers go through the first turnstyle until they exit the inspection.
Youths climb the walls separating the lines, "steal" a better place in line. They go through the Humanitarian line, which is closed now, and then switch over to the regular line by climbing.
We ask one of those waiting where he came from. He was from a village near Jenin. Left home at 2:30 AM, and starts to work at 6:00. He had traveled 45 minutes to Irtach. "Open the passage at Baka or, what would be the best thing, remove the occupation!" he says to us in Hebrew. We would love to.
5:30 The workers have been praying since 5:00. We return home. The dawn has not yet arrived.