Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Fri 28.9.12, Morning

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Leora Shamir, Annelien Kisch (reporting)


                                                                Irtah, dawn shift


05.00     From far we can hear a lot of noise. There is a (more than usual on Friday?) large crowd waiting to pass the terminal.     The special gate for the women is open, but many men take advantage of the fact that there is no Palestinian “sadran” and jump the queue.  No woman dares to come near !  They keep at a distance hoping for a lull in the tumult. There are no “Ecumenicals” this morning either, or someone from the terminal-staff, to assist in creating some order. Even the young man who sells coffee and tries to close the special gate, is overpowered by a group of laborers. The people standing in the orderly line are naturally angry and there is a lot of pushing and shoving, so bad that someone is being trampled. His food-container is crushed and broken, but worse, he cannot stand on one of his feet. He limps towards the fence and sits down, hoping that the pain will pass. His friend who is rather helpless keeps him company. In spite of his bad luck  the man apparently did not lose his sense of humor “these here are all “bachurot” he says laughing, while pointing at the cluster of men who wriggle through the narrow opening of the “women’s gate” and against the flow of the regulated queue. We “mark” – in our memory – two men in striped shirts the moment  they enter the terminal, in the hope to “time” them the moment they exit on the other side.

05.45   We go to the exit; only four checking booths are open. Where are the smooth proceedings we got used to on Sunday mornings? We hear loud voices and a lot of noise coming from the bowels of the terminal and almost everyone exiting seems frustrated and with complains about the “balaghan”! “On Fridays it is always like this” we are being told.       We count how many laborers exit per minute: 35. This is only half the number of workers we count on Sundays.         We recognize one of the workers with the striped shirt: 16 min. He is the older one of the two.  The younger one needs half an hour to pass.

06.00    At last two more checking counters are opened.          A laborer says: “I missed my ride as I entered half an hour too late; now it will cost me 70 shekels to get to my work and I will receive less than a half day wages”.      Another worker wants to return, also because his employer already left with the other workers. “It’s not worth my while today” he says. He cannot return as for the time being the turnstiles turn one way only.  No one hears our calling to open the gate for him. He has been waiting there over a half hour when we leave at 6.45.  As the conversation we had with the guards sometime before resembles one between deaf people, we want to try and see if we can find the manager of the terminal and ask him how workers can return.  We are really lucky to find him near those same guards who stand near the parking-lot. Yiftach Elad, the manager, answers our questions patiently and politely. He did not think there were any special problems this Friday and neither did he think it necessary to start working on Fridays at 4.00.   We made a date for next month when he will come with us and try to understand (refute?!) our complaints.