Eyal, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Qalqiliya, Thu 4.6.09, Afternoon
There is light traffic at the checkpoint. Cars are passing through without being checked. We went on to the additional entrance to Qalqilya at the Eyal checkpoint.Driving on Road 55 to Road 444 via Road 5504 revealed that road 444 once passed through the outskirts of Qalqilya on the eastern side of the green line.
The gate to the entrance to the inspection points is wide open. Three inspection points are operating. The workers get out of their cars, walk quickly across the road to the entrance. They are not amazed as we are that the turnstile is empty, go in, pass through, and disappear behind the high fences.
Here and there we asked people who slowed down if it had ever happened that the gate was wide open, and they answered that this was the first time. Interesting. ON the other hand, the gate to the inner parking lot was closed.
17:20 Irtah Crossing
As soon as we arrived we went to see what was going on the Tulkarem side.
We found four people: three men and one woman, standing at the entry point to Israel and waiting to be let through. They are standing and waiting between the fences for someone to call them over the loudspeaker. They said that they had arrived at 16:30 and no one had yet been free to let them through.
We went to ask the security guards on the other side what the problem was. The answer we received was: “Do you want us to stop letting 500 people who are coming back in [to the West Bank] now in order to let four people through?”
We answered that only one inspection point was needed in order to let the four people through. We got the same answer. When we left at 18:00 three people were still waiting to go through. One had left.
The person who left, a businessman, lived in Tulkarem, and is married to a woman from Israel who lives in a community called Zemer. Her father and three children were waiting for him on the Israeli side to take him to visit the family. After waiting for two hours the man gave up and decided to give up on the visit. He said he would come another day.
The woman, an American married to a resident of Tulkarem, has been living there for 19 years, and is a member of the organization “Seeds for Peace”. She and another two men were on their way to a Jewish-Palestinian workshop in Tiberias. A bus from Tel Aviv was to have collected her from the checkpoint. We are not sure that things had worked out since they had not yet been allowed in when we left.
There were about 120 people crowded at the entrance to the inspection points (not 500 as they had claimed). Two were operating and they got through within 5 minutes.
At 17:45 a security guard stood in front of the road leading to the entrance to the facility and stopped people.
What happened? No answer.
.The first gate is also closed and dozens of workers (men and women) who got out of the cars that brought them, were crowded in front of the closed gate. They waited for 20 minutes until the gate was reopened.
At 18:10 the gate was reopened and we left. We don’t know why passage was halted.