Thursday, 12 February 2009

BLOGGING FROM INSIDE PALESTINE - EREZ CROSSING

This place is such a farce. Fortunately I have a good long book with me.

Erez is the pedestrian crossing into Gaza. It was revamped a year or two ago so now consists of a very modern, spacious 'terminal' building. But it's almost deserted at 9am as usual. Hardly anyone gets to cross.

It takes an hour for the 11 people in our party to have their passports processed by the Israelis. One of our number gets sent back, then is allowed in. The whole process is deliberately arbitrary and intimidating. Or maybe the Israelis are hopelessly inefficient.

Then it's through the turnstiles and down the passageways and into Gaza, where we are met by guys anxious to carry bags (it's work) for the 600 metres past the bombed factories to the UN cars.

1 comment:

DNC said...

Only an hour? That doesn't sound too bad. I bet it would take Palestinians a lot longer - if they make it at all. By way of comparison, my first visit to the EP in Strasbourg was in 1981. Before Schengen there were passport controls at all the now open borders - Belgium/Luxembourg, Luxembourg/France; France/Germany. Travelling with a coach-load of Youth for Europe members, it took at least 30 mins at each border. And as we were staying in Kiel on the other side of the Rhine, we had to allow an hour - just in case - for all the passport checks to get to the EP on time. Yes, they collected all 40-odd passports and checked them. Plus spot checks on luggage. Quite intimidating, as you say, but that's the nature of the job. And that was in an area where countries were at peace, not war. We now take our free movement of people, capital, goods and services in Europe for granted. But the EU has come a long way in a relatively short time. Just think what that freedom would do for the Palestinians in the West Bank - coping with over 600 check points - and Gazans imprisoned in the strip. Enterprise, trade, education, cultural exchange, etc. instead of repression, apartheid, discrimination and death. I believe that this would help foster peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Current Israeli policy might make the Israelis look and feel strong in the short term. But it will never buy them peace and security in the long term.