Makkabim (Beit Sira)
05:00 – 6:45 AM
The Checkpoint has been “upgraded” with security railings at the exit to the Israeli side which only adds to the feeling of metal from the exit (to be more specific, the security railings are not only along the length of the sidewalk but they also block it horizontally which results in a narrow passage to the outside). This morning there are relatively short lines. Two inspection points are open and the line moves rather swiftly. Once every couple of minutes it is stopped to inspect selected IDs.
In our estimation it takes from 10 to 20 minutes to pass through, depending on whether the person is delayed to inspect an ID or not. Once again we see people who are standing in their socks, without jackets, in the cold, waiting to pass through. Relatively quiet today. No shouting from the loudspeakers. Only when we ourselves are inspected do we discover the reason why: the manager of the checkpoint is in the facility and comes to chat with us. He says that from 1000 to 2500 workers pass through each morning. Today about 1200 passed through. I am writing his words for your review: His “credo” is to treat the workers with respect. He claims that they try to speed up the passage by minimal guarding of security positions. We asked about the shouts we have heard from the loudspeakers more than once. He claims that the women working behind the glass enclosures “are not aware of the loud amplification of their voices outside of the glass.” He also emphasizes that he sees an advantage that the passage of Palestinians is controlled by salaried civilians as opposed to weary, fearful soldiers.
He showed us the bathrooms that were installed on the Palestinian and Israeli sides. The kiosk on the Israeli side (a tender through the Ministry of Security) and told how he initiated construction of the new railings that cost NIS 30,000 to install (he said this prevented running over the Palestinians that sit on the sidewalk and wait for transport).
We asked about the man who was returned during one of our previous shifts and prevented from passing since it was claimed that he cursed. He said this was an unusual occurrence but “he expected that the Palestinians would act with the same respect offered to them by the Israelis.”
About the promised bridge over Road 443 – he said that it would be “built within two months”. We did see work at the entrance to the checkpoint – a cement ditch has been prepared (on it we suppose the bridge will be erected) on the sidewalk at the entrance underneath the road, (probably the people will cross the bridge over the road and will disappear directly underground so that nothing will be seen from the road and there will be no passage on the sidewalk - so it is hoped).
Important information we received is that during four days of the week there are those who pass through the checkpoint to visit prisoners.
He did not agree to tell us which days, other than to say not on Friday. Perhaps if we go via Road 443 during these hours it will be possible to stop at the Checkpoint.
Next time we will try to be there for a later shift.