Bir Nabala, Makkabim (Beit Sira), Sun 18.5.08, Morning

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Ruth O. and Ilana D. (reporting)
From 4:30 till 7:00 AM
We met in Ramot where we left one car. The CP on the Ramot Road was manned by two soldiers, but all cars passed freely towards Beit Iksa, although the road to Bir Nabala was blocked.
There were few cars on the 443 Road, we made a U-turn beyond the Macabim CP and parked near the concrete slabs blocking the entry to Palestinian cars on the Eastern side.
There was already a line of pedestrians (on the Western side)  and we talked to some waiting workers who had left their house at 3:00 AM and then decided we would have a better view on the other side of the CP to observe the soldiers.
Meanwhile the queue was getting longer. It turns out that this was the first day after a long curfew. People had only been to work two days during the last month. The Palestinians pas a metal detector one by one, leaving a ‘sterileinfo-icon’ area between them and then have their papers and belongings checked by three soldiers.
There are actually two metal detectors, but only one is in use. Two soldiers are seated on a kind of high throne (well protected by concrete walls) and the Palestinians have to reach (and look) up to hand them their documents, while the soldiers look down upon them and can overlook the queue. We timed a twenty-minute wait and since the line had lengthened we timed again and meanwhile went over to the main road where a few old ladies were sitting on the side of the road with their loads of produce. Some vans were waiting and a few employers, but most men were sitting on the curb waiting for the ride with their bosses. Fortunately it was not raining, but there is no shelter whatsoever from the elements at this site where Jewish cars are whisked past not aware of what is taking place in the lane next to theirs, which they conveniently never enter.
One of the bosses complained that he never knows whether there is a curfew or not. He used to call the Liaison Office in Beit El, but recently had had no reply from them and therefore he (and his workers) have to guess whether the CP is closed or not.
The second timing had been thirty minutes. The exiting Palestinians were complaining that the movement was much slower than usual, but those still in the queue were patient and meek. We went over to the CP on the main road and approached the Commander who stated that every person individually has to be checked thoroughly. However, after a few minutes he walked over to the pedestrians’ CP to help out. This didn’t make procedures any faster. Occasionally even shoes were checked and our next ‘timing’ took 35 minutes. Many impatient employers drove up to the CP and called their workers who were stuck in the line. By 7:00 AM the queue had shortened.