Bureaucracy proves tougher than barbed wire
Monday 10 August 1992
'They have said they will take 3,000 Palestinians daily. Last Friday they took 500 only. Saturday they take none. Today at 8am they said they would take only 2,000. We do not have enough water, and many people have been taken to hospital; but they still hope to get across to see their families, whom many have not seen for three years.'
It was 40C outside the immigration terminal, and one little girl, dressed in a stiff nylon bridesmaid's dress, sat slumped in her mother's arms. Boys were clustered round a standpipe. A lone bus stood idle, its roof piled with luggage. Plastic fans were wafting the flies back and forth as mothers and babies sat patiently, clutching forms that they thrust at passing officials. Many had been waiting for several days, some for weeks.
On the Jordanian side of the bridge, bureaucratic hell has been let loose, stopping up to 100,000 Palestinians, many of whom work abroad, from returning home for summer visits to the West Bank and Gaza.
Unprecedented numbers have arrived at the bridge this year. Israel demands that all Palestinians working abroad must return to renew residency rights every three years; many postponed visits during the Gulf crisis, and this therefore is their last chance.
But thousands have made the journey in vain, their route across the bridge barred by Israeli immigration quotas. Of the estimated 100,000 who have been waiting, 40,000 remain, the rest having wasted their holiday leave and given up. Israeli officials on the West Bank claim ignorance of the crisis. They say they are letting in more visitors this year than before: that Palestinians are crossing at the rate of 3,500 a day. They say that Israeli soldiers, who check each crease in a child's frock, each seam in a shirt for explosives, cannot be expected to work longer hours. And they say that the rise in 'visitors' is a sign that Palestinians want to come back now that the peace process is going well and life is improving.
The scenes on the East Bank, however, show these claims to be a hideous distortion. The Jordanian officials can only scoff. 'They just want to force people to turn back. It is a good way to do it. It is voluntary transfer.'
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
London property boom built on dirty money
Becky Watts: Stepbrother and his girlfriend named locally as two arrested on suspicion of murder
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...
£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...
£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...