Night/Dawn shift at Tarqumiyya.
Left Yeruham at 01:30, meet Muhammad at 02:00 at Shoqet junction and then to Tarqumiyya; we reach Tarqumiyya checkpoint at 02:50. The cage is already filled to bursting. There’s already a moderate flow of people at this hour to get a place on line.
Three food stands have been open since 01:00.
02:55 A line begins forming outside the cage.
03:04 An employee arrives from the Israeli side, opens a door at the revolving gate through which people who didn’t receive an Israeli work permit return to the Palestinian Authority. About 20 people go through there by the end of the shift at 06:00.
03:08 The number of cars bringing Palestinian laborers continues to increase.
03:29 As if at a signal – and the anticipation that the revolving gates will soon open – people begin crowding and pushing into the cage. The unrest begins about fifteen minutes before the checkpoint opens.
03:33 The gates are still closed; the line now reaches the road.
03:45 The line now winds alongside the road toward the traffic circle.
03:46 The gates open, people begin running in, each trying to get close to the head of the line.
Four lanes within; I can’t see whether all are open and manned.
We were told that Jaba crossing (past Gush Etzion) is closed, so people who usually cross there have come here.
03:58 From a distance I saw people had already crossed to the Israeli side.
A story I’d first heard here: A man came first to the Tarqumiyya checkpoint to obtain a magnetic card. Entry is together will all the laborers, but the entry for magnetic cards is only at 08:00. So, he says, there’s a mafia. A Palestinian enters, takes “numbers,” returns to the Palestinian side of the checkpoint and sells them for NIS 150 each.
04:08 The line shortens, the revolving gates close for very short periods.
04:12 A man who’d arrived to take care of something reached the area of the offices and was sent back. The office he needs opens only at seven.
04:19 Disorder erupts and also pressure from the line on the entrance to the cage. People begin entering through the roof. Within a minute the line that had reached to the road falls apart, everyone comes to the cage entrance and now there’s pandemonium. I’d never seen anything like it here before. Now there are three entrances to the cage – the official one at ground level and two from the roof. The number entering through the roof keeps increasing. The more sensible ones move back to sit near us on the hill to wait for things to calm down.
04:45 Fifteen people have been sent back by this time because of the congestion, but I didn’t try to find out why.
05:05 The flow of people continues, all joining the non-line.
05:37 There are still three entrances, one at ground level and two on the roof, though there’s no reason for it since the number of people continues to decrease and those now arriving on the path leading to the cage enter immediately.
05:42 The first trucks arrive from the Palestinian Authority and get on line for inspection. I counted 26 trucks, most with trailers.
05:59 Those sitting on the hill begin joining the very short line.
06:02 The last of them enter the cage.
EAPPI staff have counted 5000 people by this hour. They send regards to Chana Barg, say their meeting with her was fascinating and important.
06:05 I leave the checkpoint. People still flow through; there’s no line and whoever arrives enters immediately.
A good production manager would eliminate all this confusion by opening the gates at 03:00.