Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Fri 2.7.10, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
We could repeat Micky F.'s report of the shift at Ayal on 25 June 2010 word for word. Raised voices among those waiting outside the fences to enter Israel, snarling from those who are already in the building, being inspected, reiterated complaints about the late opening time - 5:00 a.m. and not 4:00 a.m. - the time the gate is opened the rest of the week:
And all this goes on in sight of the garden development project at the exit from the roadblock in the direction of Israel. The plants are blooming and twining around the fences which will soon be covered by them (but they won't go up the prefabricated concrete wall lording it above them). Even passion flowers have come into leaf. One could imagine that the roadblock is the land of the 'seven species' because pomegranate trees have been planted and have already started to fruit, not to mention the rich lemon balm and the abundance of flowers... and the lawn!! How can we not mention the lawn, adorned with sprinklers (in past, naively blind, times we used to sing songs about sprinklers in the fields). As we have already written, the flowers are tended while the people are abused. Against the decoration of the 'Welcome to Efraim Crossing stands the crying shame of the filth covering the area close to the Palestinian entrance to the facility, the area on the western side of the car park fence where the Palestinian labourers are brought in the mornings on their way to work. Here there is no need to pretend and create scenery (although the huge sign saying 'The Hope of Us All' is still in place).
At 5:03 a.m. the first of those queuing started going into the facility. People climb over the fences to try and bypass the queue.
Each time the turnstiles open, a group of some 65 - 80 people go through, the turnstiles are locked and then opened again for another group. People run across the short distance between the turnstile and the first inspection facility, the magnometer, again, in an effort to get there first. At the same time they put their things on the table at the side, e.g. a can of drink, a lunch bag, shirt, shoes. Here too, some try and get in front of others.
An unknown voice from within the building gives out orders in the roadblock language - the language of directives in a matching tone. Sometimes the orders are accompanied by a positive expression 'now that's lovely, now that's lovely', apparently when a satisfactory outcome has been carried out in accordance with orders.
At 5:10 a.m. the first people start to exit.
The number of staffed hatches has risen from 3 - 5 during the hour we have been here.
Those leaving are furious saying: "They aren't doing anything; they're not working at all". "Do you know what's going on in there? A war". (in the facility). "Ask them to open another crossing".
A woman comes out with a pained look on her face. She bares her arm to the elbow and tells us that her arm has been hurt in the crowded entrance turnstile (and imagine how hard it will be for her to do the manual work from which she makes her living).
The view from the roadblock reveals the injustices and the fears connected to a place of work: a man from a village in the area of Jenin has lost his job. The company he worked for for 21 years has closed. He has not received any pay for 2 months (55 days work, NIS 200 a day). He is concerned about the severance pay due to him. We advised him to contact the 'Workers' Line'. Lately he has been trying his luck as a day worker, "It's like a market, they come and take you to work". He is worried that he may lose his work permit.
We went back to the area where the Palestinians enter the roadblock. The queue at the entrance has disappeared. When the path is not crowded we can see that the people have to along a winding lane with 4 curves until they get to the turnstiles.
From time to time someone comes to the turnstile and goes through.
At 5:55 a.m. the tannoy announces 'Good morning everyone. In another two minutes we shall start to work'. A short queue of people has built up.
We saw a man and two women coming back. The man says with a confused smile that there is a problem with his magnetic card but demonstrates with his hands that apparently there is a problem with the biometric identification. We didn't manage to ask the two women about their problem.