'Azzun 'Atma, Mon 10.8.09, Morning

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Niva D., Rina Z. (reporting), Translator: Charles K.

Azzun ‘Atma


The shift at ‘Azzun ‘Atma should begin early in the morning (05:00-05:30), when it’s crowded.  Many people thanked us, and we also felt that we were of some help.

The shift should begin at ‘Azzun ‘Atma’s northern gate.  We didn’t have any trouble.  If someone doesn’t know the way, they should ask (I’m also willing to explain how to get there).  Whoever goes should get the document from General K. permitting Israelis to go through the gatesinfo-icon on the seam line (I got a copy from Maya G. Z.).Once again we saw how the settlers use the low-cost workforce, which has no power to bargain, and pay them much less than the minimum wage, without benefits.  In addition to fulfilling a mitzvah they’re making a lot of money by living five minutes from Kfar Saba. 05:45  When we arrived at the northern gate from Route 5 there were 5-6 men in line in the fenced corridor.  A male and a female soldier sat under the canopy.We entered the village without asking, and found a vehicle that took us to the southern gate, where we weren’t allowed to go through to the other side where the laborers wait, even though we waved General K.’s letter.  We didn’t argue.  30-40 men were waiting on the other side of the turnstile.  Women, children and the elderly go through without waiting.  The rest enter a building where they, their belongings and their documents are inspected.  The inspection is slow.  We counted 20 people going through in 10 minutes. 06:10  The commander arrives, a Staff Sergeant, and opens two more inspection booths on the side which he and another soldier man, and the line advances rapidly.  One of the laborers asks us to come every day, since thanks to us today’s inspection is faster.  The site is usually crowded, here as well as at the southern checkpoint.  Everyone who has a permit to work in the settlements and goes through here must also go through the southern checkpoint.  “We’re inspected here, and we’re inspected there, 100 meters away, and all that for a piece of bread for the children.” An innovation in the car inspection:  The driver has first to undergo the inspection for pedestrians, place his ID card on the concrete barrier, come with the vehicle, and after it’s also been inspected, including the trunk, his ID is returned to him.  And after all that – the vehicle can only enter the village.  He’s got no other way to leave!  06:30  We returned to the southern checkpoint.  About 100 men crowded into the corridor.The soldiers didn’t want to open the side gate for us, but the laborers squeezed aside and let us come through the line.  According to our timing, people waited 30 minutes in line.  The inspection is slow.  The person inserts his ID card in a slot in the booth, and waits for it to be returned.  We suggested that that commander open an additional lane.  “Who are you to tell me what to do?!”  We phoned the humanitarian office.  Even before we finished the call he opened another lane and the line moved rapidly – 33 people in 5 minutes.  We saw a number of Palestinian vehicles going through a separate gate in both directions – apparently people with special permits. As we drove from one checkpoint to the other we inquired about wages in the settlements on the seam line.  It depends, said the person we spoke to.  A skilled tile-layer now gets NIS 150 for 10-12 hours of work. (Minimum wage – NIS 20/hour in Israel).  There’s nothing to argue about, because there’s considerable unemployment in the territories, and the worker is completely dependent on the employer in order to get a work permit.  Another person, a skilled metalworker, gets NIS 28/hour, and NIS 35 in Israel.  Everyone is paid a daily wage, without benefits