Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 3.6.12, Morning
Annalin, Liora (reporting), Ayelet S (translator)
Eyal checkpoint (terminal), which was opened in 2004, is on the Green Line, at the outskirts of Qalqiliya, south of kibbutz Eyal. Only Palestinians with permits to pass to Israel are allowed through. The permits are in the form of magnetic cards. The intention of the army is to hand its operation over to a private company, but until now it is still operated by the army. 4000 people pass through the checkpoint daily. They have to return from work on the same day and only through this checkpoint.
04:07: Good morning, the workday has begun
The turnstiles at the entrance to the CP are open, but the green light is still not on, apparently out of order.
Women arriving at this early hour have to wait and pass through with the men. Approaching the magnometer, they move a bit aside and the men allow them through together. (There is a separate exit exclusively for women, but it functions only on Sundays at 04:00) .
Preparing themselves for the magnometer, some of the workmen emptied out their bags in advance. Until 04:25 passage ran smoothly. We decide to cross over to other side to watch the exiting folk. (We saw no other observers there today.)
At the exit, the same speedy pace. But at 04:33, the turnstile suddenly stops operation. About 30 Palestinians are waiting to get out and the number is growing rapidly. From within we hear a cry: "Sigal, to shikuf 4", and then: "back to normal". All this took 2 minutes, but the jam and pressure this caused to the rapidly revolving turnstile was overwhelming.
In the compound, on its "bridge", we noticed armed guards. Near the wall and the posts at the exit we saw a group conducting their prayer. Above, a signpost saying: "Exit to parking lots. Have a pleasant and safe stay."
The activity is quiet and efficient. Just one of the women remarked to us: "no good, not in order". Why? We encountered an acquaintance who remarked that Sunday is the worst day. We decided to leave at 05:00. In the area in front of the CP there were many people, sipping coffee, smoking, praying, awaiting their rides to work.
05:17 Eyal Checkpost
Lots of Palestinians are already awaiting their rides to work. We asked for permission to get through and view the entrance to the CP. An official who seemed harsh, turned out talkative and relaxed and agreed to have us cross over for five minutes. He told us that the number of passers-through was 4500-7000 per day and explained that the whole lot crossed through in 4 hours, meaning an average of 1000 persons per hour. He thinks that the commander of this CP, Shimon Levi, did all he could to ease passage here. There were appointed "orderlies" in the queues, workmen who also got through into Israel, but while on line they would moderate within the queue and prevent mishaps. One of the main problems in the past was that of the merchants. They have permits to trade in Israel but they are now allowed passage only from 07:00 onward to prevent excessive crowding - The orderlies now supervise their participation in the queue. (Has the same arrangement been affected in "Sha'ar Efrayim", where we heard similar complaints?). The orderlies also oversee the separate women's line. Our guide also advocated that better manners and nicer speech were in affect now and some employees had been fired on that account. He suggested that …"after all the Palestinian passers-through were not to blame for the conflict and that they simply wanted to earn their living…Organizations such as yours (ie, MachsomWatch) are very important for a Democratic country"!!!