Although this is a land border, it is nothing like a land border. Land borders are commonly furnished by a different décor, more elegant and orderly. Here the décor is overpowering – tall electronic fences (about 2.5 meters high). The entrance has concrete blocks piled one on another.
The entry post to Palestine. Here Israeli employers drop off their workers. At 4pm the line behind the carousel gathered some 200 people. I counted. The line gets longer by the minute.
The carousel, by which they enter the posts, is not in constant motion. The workers start going in, they crowd together, knowing the carousel will stop at some point. Everyone wants to get home. The overcrowding is impossible. The young ones, probably single, are not as much of a hurry. Most are men, some are women. And this is just the entrance to the checkpoint. Inside they still have to undergo an examination.
A man from Jenin, about 40 years-old, works as a floorer in Netanya. He told me he leaves the house at 3am, arrives at the checkpoint at 4:20am. He gets out of the checkpoint at 5:30am. He says that those who can’t make it to the checkpoint at Irtah between 5am to 6am, won’t be able to get out of the checkpoint on time, will miss his ride, and will lose a day’s work. This man is one of the more fortunate ones. He has a car, and he leaves it by the checkpoint.
The entry post to Israel. Around noontime families wait here (most are probably families of prisoners on their way to visit a member in the family imprisoned in Israel). They have been waiting for over an hour-and-a-half, the gate is closed. A kid is swinging on the gigantic yellow gate, then tries to climb the fence. He wants to move a bit, trying to find something out of boredom. His family calls him back, concerned.
The Irtah checkpoint (a/k/a/ Sha’ar Ephraim*), last week (April 23, 2009), between 3:30pm to 5pm. Workers, men and women, residents of the northern West Bank, go through here every day on their way to work in Israel. In Israel they pave roads, work in construction, pick oranges. I saw here the poorest of people. Some were dressed in rags, literally torn clothes (and these are the more fortunate. After all, there are those who did not gain a working permit in Israel).
These are the hewers of wood and the drawers of water of Israel. Here is another simple fact that perpetuates the occupation of Palestine: it is profitable.
(Coming soon: a post on Irtah checkpoint at nighttime and early dawn).