Eyal, Sun 10.5.09, Morning

Observers: 
Mickey F. and Deborah L. (reporting
May-10-2009
|
Morning

 

Eyal checkpoint at 4:15AM. 

According
to the internationals who were on the Palestinian side, the checkpoint
opened on time at 4:00AM and already at that time the line reached
Qalqilyia. This means there were already hundreds on line.

We
could see people waiting on line from the turnstile ad infinitum but we
couldn't really get a count or see where the line ended because it was
still dark. The line was orderly. About 13 people a minute were leaving
the terminal after being checked.

At 4:25AM the turnstile which allows the Palestinians to enter into the terminal locked.  The
turnstile opens and locks on and off according to how many people are
allowed to enter the terminal. It is very inconsistent. It can be
locked for 10 minutes or for a few seconds.  It can stay
open for a minute or a few minutes. Today when it locked and stayed
closed for a few minutes, the orderly line broke out into to chaos and
everyone ran toward the turnstile in one huge crowd. A jeep had been in
the area and watched the uncontrolled crowd but they soon drove off.  A soldier from the terminal spoke with a load speaker telling people to move away from the turnstile but it didn't help.

People
were all crushed together pushing each other; trying to hold their
packages over their head or passing them over to friends on the other
side or throwing them over the side to pick up after they passed
through the turnstile. They were shouting and complaining and telling
each other "wachd, wachd" (one at a time).

 When so many people are pressing forward on the turnstile the turnstile becomes stuck even when it is not locked.  Those who were able to trickle through tried to help by pushing back on the turnstile from the other side.  A
few people managed to squeeze in through the wall and the turnstile
where there is a very narrow space. The soldier with the loud speaker
from the terminal called out to those squeezing through and told them
to stop.

There
were those Palestinians who didn't want to push their way through and
they waited around on the sides hoping for the crowd to slowly
disperse. We spoke to one man later who told us he got to the CP at
3:30AM but didn't get out until 7:20AM because he wasn't capable of
pushing through.

At
4:49AM the jeep came back and parked near the turnstile. We saw a
vehicle with yellow blinking lights on the Palestinian side. We called
the Internationals and they told us it was an ambulance. A couple of
people were injured.

At
4:55AM a soldier from the jeep saw some one trying to squeeze through
the space between the turnstile and wall and ran out to stop him. The
internationals asked us if we could ask the army to open another
turnstile for the women who want to pass through but can't because of
the bottle neck. We couldn't do anything but they eventually get
through to someone who did open another turnstile.

At 5:25AM  soldiers
from the jeep came over to us and told us we shouldn't be there . They
wanted us to stand behind these huge cement structures. If we stood
there we  would not have been able to see the turnstile on the other side. They told us it was a military zone. We moved slightly back.

 At
5:35AM the soldiers came back and put up a sign which said "Danger –
Military Zone. Anyone who passes through is endangering their lives."
They insisted we stand behind that sign. We moved over and found
another place to stand in the grasses that allowed us to see the
turnstile from a far.

 We
saw about 20 people sitting behind the gate on the Israeli side. There
was some thing wrong with the matching of their fingerprints and they
had to wait until 8:30AM for the DCO to open. This mismatching often
happens to people who work with their hands. The constant rubbing of
the fingers on hard surfaces changes the print and then it no longer
looks like the picture taken a few weeks before.

In
the terminal four stations were in operation to examine the
Palestinians' documents. An average of only 12 people a minute were
checked and left the terminal on the Israeli side (as many as 20 and as
few as 3 per minute).

 About 3,500 people must pass through in the morning to get to work.  It
is outrageous to expect only 4 stations to service such a mass of
people. This is especially ludicrous when you see what a pressure the
people are under. People who come from villages further north must get
up at 2AM in order to get to work on time. They must pass through other
checkpoints before even getting to the CP at the boarder to Israel. And
here at this border they are met with an endless line of people all
equally under the same pressure to get to work and must fight each
other for a place on line. It is as if we set the stage for this to
happen. This kind of treatment of people who have passed through all
the security tests and have received permits is unacceptable. It
results in chaos. As so many Palestinians who pass by us say, "This is
not living!"