Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Wed 14.7.10, Morning
Translator: Suzanne O.
Darkness all around. The roadblock gate opens with an announcement over the tannoy: "Shwoya, shwoya, wachad, wachad".
After a minute someone else announces: "Good morning start moving".
The queue stops a few times with requests from those in charge that those crossing remove the contents of bags and spread them on the table.
The queue at the entrance terminates much to our amazement. The next people to arrive go through immediately.
We moved over to where people exit - here there is a continuous stream of people leaving.
We asked the labourers why there is no queue at the entrance and were told that the demand starts at about 4:30 or 5:00 a.m.
We return to the entrance and indeed the queue goes right down to the awnings of the 'market' at the eastern end, we can't see the end of it.
The pace of the queue: approximately each minute the turnstile opens and after 3, 4 minutes it closes for 5 minutes. We counted 45, 46, 25, 67, 50 people entering each time the turnstile opened. What is the logic? The whim of those in charge? Or a logic which, until we are permitted to go in, we will be unable to follow?
The queue is still heavy.
There is still a queue but slightly less heavy.
Complaints and requests received by us:
On Fridays and Sundays there is a lot of crowding and problems arise.
One of the reasons for this is that on Fridays the roadblock only opens at 5:00 a.m., and the inspections are very thorough. It seems that they are held up in order to annoy them and so they leave for work late.
The rooms in which the inspections take place are small - two and a half square metres, and as many people as there is space to stand are pushed in. Sitting is forbidden. There are elderly people for whom the standing and crowding is hard, and the wait is a long one.
One man told us the following: he is aged 49 (we have his name and telephone number). Within the inspection procedure, at some point there are three parallel crossings and the third one is meant for people of 45 and above only. (It sounds similar to the humanitarian crossing.)
This morning too, according to him, they announced that those over the permitted age can use the third crossing, so he stood there and waited.
And waited and waited and nothing happened.
All his approaches to those in charge were met with jeers and he was sent to the ordinary queue. He stood his ground, didn't give up, but at the end was forced to return in anger and frustration after wasting so much time for nothing. He said something like: "Rules are not to be ridiculed", and was answered mockingly "We make the rules here".
This may not be tragic but it's an example of the small minded aggravations and humiliations which we often hear about, and which leave a bad taste.
The labourers suggested that on crowded Fridays the age for using this queue (when it works properly...) should be brought down to 40 so as to quicken the pace of the inspections.
Someone else told us that he works in Haifa. He comes on a daily basis from Kfir which is near Bak'a El Garbia valley. He leaves home at 3 a.m. so that he can cross here (an hour's journey and several roadblocks) and then it takes him another hour and a half to get to work in Haifa. It's like going from Tel Aviv to Eilat via Metullah. Every day. Happily.
And we are searching for logic and common sense.
Next Friday we will go to Irtach early so that we can see what really goes on.