Makkabim (Beit Sira), Thu 10.10.13, Morning
4:45 – 6:45
This is the first shift at the Macabim checkpoint which is operated by a civilian company. As we arrived there were about 40 people waiting, seated all along the fence and another 20 under the awning. The checkpoint opened at 5:00. Slowly, more people arrived and the line became longer. Most were men who gave their places up to women so they could pass through without waiting. Many greeted us with a “good morning”/ We entered the facility. Inside there are two clerks who were constantly busy during the time we were there. The drawer, through which ID cards are returned after inspection, is positioned at 50 cm from the ground and the people actually have to get down on their knees before the Inspector who sits in a cubicle (this happens to most), and bend down to collect their IDs from the floor as they are ejected from the drawer. At one of the positions one of the guards started to yell out through the loudspeaker a slew of complaints, among them, that the ID drawer isn’t being closed sufficiently, that the people move, that they take their various possessions from the inspection device, that they should think the machine doesn’t see because “we’re seeing everything”. Shelly asked the workers to let us pass through and the moment the guard saw us her yelling ceased and we didn’t hear her again until we left.
In our estimation it takes from 20 to 30 minutes to pass through.
A man approached us and introduced himself as “a friend of Sylvie’s.” He said that the swift passage today of the workers was just “for show” for our benefit. He claimed that they are sometimes held up for half an hour; sometimes more than an hour, and then they miss the transport and lose a day’s work. He showed us a picture of an elderly man sitting on the floor against a wall. He claimed that he was delayed at the checkpoint a few days ago for over an hour.
In our estimation, about 1,000 people went through during the two hours we were there.