Eyal Crossing, Mon 25.5.09, Morning
Micky F. and Deborah L. (reporting)
We arrived at 4:05AM and the CP had opened on time at 4:00AM. The line waiting to enter the terminal on the Palestinian side went as far as we could see. People waited on line without causing a bottle neck. Palestinians had taken it upon themselves to make sure that no one cut in line and that there was no rushing toward the entrance.
The first people coming out of the terminal had started to wait on line as early as 11:30AM .Around 6:00AM the line that had gone on endlessly into the distance actually turned out to be finite. We could see the end and there seemed to be about 300 people still waiting. By 6:27AM there were about 100 on line and people continued to straggle in just a few at a time when we left at 6:45AM.
There are still only 4 computer stations open in the terminal out of a possible 8. Some said the soldiers were getting more efficient this week. Another man said that in general the soldiers here are allowed to talk to each other or on the phone rather then waiting on the Palestinians and no one says anything. This same man mentioned that at some other CPs the soldiers in charge walk around and make sure their soldiers are working all the time.
About 14 to 16 people per minute were leaving the terminal on the Israeli side. At the entrance to the terminal from the Palestinian side, the turnstile was opened for from one to 3 minutes at a time. The turnstile was locked for from one to 5 minutes. When the turnstile was left open for longer periods, as many as 115 came through. During the shorter intervals about 25 to 30 people passed through.
At 4:50AM a jeep with soldiers came to check if the gate on the Palestinian side was locked and asked us if we were allowed to be here. We said yes and they left.
Micky spoke with a number of Palestinians as they were leaving the terminal. Following are a number of observations made by the Palestinians:
1) There has been greater pressure on this checkpoint in the last 2 months. They feel it might be due to the fact that other CPs that previously allowed direct passage into Israel are no longer open (Azzun Atman, Jenin, etc.).
2) People have to come very early to get a place on line . Some even come at 8PM the night before and sleep near the turnstile to make sure they will have a place.
3) However, the last four days Palestinians have been making sure there is no bottle neck by policing themselves. This has prevented the crush at the turnstile that is so inhumane.
4) An older man said that in the last 2 weeks when things were so horrific on line, he didn't come to work as much. He felt he just couldn't afford health wise to be caught in the crunch. As a result he lost a number of days of work.
5) There are employers that shout at workers who come late even though they know the conditions at the CP.
6) Palestinians with a permit to enter Israel can enter at any of the CPs that are listed. They usually choose which CP is the closest to home or which CP has the least pressure.
7) A number of Palestinians asked if the CP could be opened earlier in order to avoid the terrible back up.
8) One man said it isn't worth working in Israel. He never gets enough sleep because even when he does sleep he dreams of what he will have to face at the CP and the fear of being crushed at the turnstile. However, he has no choice since there is no work in Palestine.
9) They are allowed to bring food and drinks through the line. The only thing not allowed is cups of coffee that might spill on the documents or computers. In Tul Karem there are different rules.