Eyal, Mon 18.5.09, Afternoon

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Observers: 
Bilha A., Yona A. Translation: Galia S.
May-18-2009
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Afternoon


15:15 – The soldiers are trying to organize the traffic of cars in the checkpoint area that is under construction. Only one lane is open for traffic but this one is also blocked by a bulldozer that has brought a scoop full of concrete to this site of one of the median dividers and three Palestinian workers take the concrete with spades scattering it in the site of the divider. When the scoop empties, the bulldozer goes to bring more concrete. The lane is free for a few minutes and a few cars manage to pass before another bulldozer, one that looks like a small bobcat, occupies the single lane. Its sophisticated scoop can empty the concrete directly into the gap of the divider. This is the way the two bulldozers work while the workers and the traffic in both directions endure the heat of over 35 centigrade. 

A soldier of the Engineering Corps shows resourcefulness and moves the bulldozer to a section of the road on the other side of the divider so as not to disturb the traffic. A tanker that tried to pass off the main lane got stuck and now the soldiers are helping to release it by moving the long lines of cars backwards. Two Palestinian workers who work at the checkpoint tell us they are from Kifl Harith. 

A military jeep stands near by on the other side of the road east of the watch tower. The soldiers at the checkpoint stop a car with young men, take their ID cards and give them to the people in the jeep. A soldier carrying a weapon in both hands leads the young men, one at a time, to the jeep for a talk with the man that sits inside. 

15:30 – The tanker has been released and managed to pass. The bulldozers have freed the road for a while and cars are starting to move. Since there is only one lane, the soldiers regulate the traffic, letting cars pass each time from another direction. 

15:45 – Very few cars pass and the bulldozers are again blocking the road and the traffic in both directions has stopped. We take pictures of the long lines of cars and the bulldozers' work, which annoys the soldiers. Although we stand a distance away from the checkpoint, two soldiers approach us and after an exchange of a few short sentences, one of them makes a call, using his cellular phone, and says that MachsomWatch women take pictures of them. They say it bothers them that we are on the Palestinians' side and not on theirs. We go on to say that we are with them on the same side, to which they respond by saying that this can result on a terrorist attacks in Tel-Aviv. 

16:00 – The jam is cleared and we leave the checkpoint and go to Eyal Passage. 

 

16:40 – Workers start coming back after a day of work. At the entrance the double door is open today and the workers pass through it instead of the turnstile. We have watched one of the workers and measured 5 minutes between arrival and departure. 

17:00 – The number of workers coming back is growing and the lines in front of the door are getting longer. Now it takes them more than 10 minutes to pass. People tell us that the main problem is in the morning, when there is a lot of pressure and people arrive already at 02:00 in order to leave on time. 

An older worker is shouting at us, "What are you standing here for? You neither help nor do anything at all." 

One of the workers explains that it is easier at Irtah, where a civilian company handles the passage. The soldiers are harder, he says. To our question, when he arrived at the passage, he says that he and his friend live close and they get here at 07:00. We want to know how long it takes them to pass and the answer is "half an hour".