Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Thu 24.12.09, Morning
4.35 – 6.30 Irtach
This is close to the shortest day of the year. That is, we arrived in darkness but the lights in the waiting shed illuminate up a long crowded line of people waiting to enter. They enter in large groups. Between groups the passage closes for a short while.
A volunteer from a European organisation stands alone on the Palestinian side, counting how many people enter in each group.After a while we go to the exit side.
Next to the coffee kiosk there are already two people.
The workers reach us and tell us of what they have undergone. The persistent complaints are:
1. A request that the checkpoint be opened at 4.00 so that they can go in quietly and without anxiety.
2. At the entrance on the Palestinian side, far from the entrance to the checkpoint, a net fell some days ago and nearly injured some of the Palestinians standing next to it. Up to now this has not been fixed and it is dangerous.
3. In the checkpoint itself there are two options, and it is not clear which is the worse: inspection by electronic device, which might be a health hazard, or inspection in a separate room, which takes a long time.While we were there we heard shouting in the checkpoint and were told by those coming out that the overcrowding in these rooms was the cause of the shouting. The room, according to the description, is about 2.5 by 2 metres, has no ceiling and no windows. Their belongings are moved to a smaller room until they come out. Sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes less. Someone said that on Thursdays the wait in the room is very long.
4. There is always the worry that they will not come out in time for their transport and so miss a day of work.
5. There is a rumour that another passage is going to be opened in the Northern Jordan valley. Many people asked if this was so.
6. We heard a story of a man who had given money to the mosque in the village and because of that his work permit had been taken from him.
Time seems a worthless commodity at the checkpoint. People leave their homes at 2 or 3 in the morning so as to get to their work, which starts at 7.00 and come back home at 7.00 at night and that is no way to. On the other hand there are those who are unemployed would pay any price to get work in Israel.