{mosimage}On Monday, the northern Qalqilya crossing for workers from the Qalqilya and Salfit districts opened and for those with entry permits into Israel.
Israeli authorities informed the Palestinian side that the crossing would be opened at 4:30 this morning. This was delayed, however until 6:00 am under the pretext that Israeli officers were training soldiers on how to deal with workers and their documents.
Journalist Mohammed Athba told PNN: “There was a lot of chaos because of the lack of facilitation from the Israeli authorities. There were more than 500 workers waiting to cross and some merchants in addition to Red Cross buses carrying families of prisoners on their way to visit their children in Israeli prisons.”
Athba continued, “The measures at the crossing were exactly like those at an international crossing. A group of 4-5 workers would be allowed through three iron turnstiles and then into a huge hall. They are then taken to an inspection room where they are searched with a laser before they go to a room where they present their permits. Finally they go through another turnstile that takes them to the other side.”
A number of laborers told PNN that they never made it to their workplaces because of the complicated and lengthy procedures. “We did not make it to the Israeli factories on time, which were waiting for us,” they said.
The workers also said the Israeli authorities at the crossing refused to recognize old permits or magnetic cards, saying they were invalid.
The families of prisoners also complained that they were held up unjustifiably. They were finally allowed to cross at 7:30 am, which meant they would reach the prisons late and would also get home at a very late hour.
Acting Qalqilya mayor Dr. Hashem Al Masri said to PNN: “The municipality has been working around the clock to prepare the crossing and facilitate procedures for the workers. Floodlights were installed on lampposts and cement blocks and other obstacles were removed. Water fountains were also installed.”
Al Masri continued, “In the next two weeks, 250 meters of the crossing will be paved at a cost of $400,000. Blueprints for this have already been drawn up and sent to the relevant parties.”
The mayor explained that the northern crossing was closed during the Aqsa Intifada and has been abandoned ever since. Several Palestinians were killed in its vicinity and all the fruit trees and orchards in that area were leveled.