Eyal Crossing, Sun 19.7.09, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
The workers express their rage and their anger, in particular regarding the fluoroscopic examination which they worry might cause cancer, and the narrow inspection room in which they have to wait a long time in very crowded conditions.
4:15 On the way to the checkpoint we passed the bathroom where a pipe had burst and a huge flow of water streamed out. We phoned the DCO and then reported it to the shift commander at the checkpoint. No one could be found to fix the pipe at this hour, but they promised to take care of it. The shift commander blamed the Palestinians who steal the faucets and the pipes. The stench near the bathroom is indescribable.
A stream of people exited the turnstile when we arrived. One of them reported that today things went well, it only took him ten minutes. Two other people also told us that things were ok today, but many others complained angrily about what goes on at the checkpoint.
Merchants stand in the closed courtyard, complaining that they have to wait until 5 AM to be inspected. Only then does anyone deal with them. One says that they arrive at the checkpoint at 2 – 2:30 AM.
Mikki and Abu Shadi - who takes care of organizing the line on the Palestinian side – agreed that he’ll give slips of paper to a few people, they’ll write on them the time they arrived at the checkpoint, and give them to us. The people with the slips of paper begin to come out. We received 13 slips during our shift. The people waited between 34 minutes and 1 ½ hours. Most waited for about an hour from the time they arrived at the checkpoint until the inspections were completed. Two people from UNRWA stand near the turnstiles. They’re doing what we’re doing, but with more sophistication. Two of their representatives on the Palestinian side record the time of arrival at the checkpoint – they cover many more people than we do – and they have a counting device. They told us how many went through: 3668 people, among them only 86 women.
4:30 The flow of people leaving has stopped – only two women go through between 4:30 and 4:31. Throughout our shift there were waves of 35 people per minute, and at other times very few.
4:35 Moshe, the shift supervisor, approaches us. We report the merchants’ complaints. His response: They know that they won’t be taken care of before 5 AM, so there’s no reason for them to arrive so early. But at least he wants to hear what we think. He says he has to complete the inspections by 7 – 7:30 AM, and then he’d like to talk with us.
4:52 The turnstile gets stuck for about a minute and then begins working again, but after another minute gets stuck again. Palestinians who went through subsequently complained about confusion inside, and we in fact heard noise from the inspection rooms. We later discovered that the turnstile is intentionally stopped when, according to one of the inspectors, someone tries to avoid inspection.
5:05 A man exits, calls to us “Like dogs, like Hitler!”
5:08 We telephone Abu Shaki who reports that the flow of workers is better now (on the Palestinian side).
5:23 A man coming through the turnstile complains that in the two-meter-square inspection room eight people are held for half an hour. He says they check whether documents are forged. Others claimed they were held in the room for 40 minutes, some even an hour and a half. There were also different versions regarding the number of people held there – 16, 14, 10.
5:45 A man leaving the inspection area says that a deaf Palestinian came in. The inspectors told him to stop, but he didn’t hear and kept going. He says that they’ve been holding him for an hour. We phoned the DCO, and Tomer promised to take care of it.
6:00 Three people in the fenced courtyard. They haven’t been inspected and are waiting for the DCO. It opens only at 9 AM.
6:03 The deaf man exits.
7:14 A Palestinian comes through the turnstile angrily: the inspection took an hour and a half. Two men following him say the same thing.
7:20 An elderly man says to us, “What can you do, after all?”
About 20 people waiting for the DCO. One, elderly, from Jenin, whose fingerprints caused a problem, was told to go to the DCO at Jalameh. He’s trying his luck here, maybe they’ll be willing to receive him. He says: How can they suspect me of being a terrorist?
Moshe, the shift supervisor, comes over, and we tell him what we think. Regarding the inspection room, he says that people remain there 20 minutes, half an hour at most, longer only in unusual circumstances. He also says that only 8-10 people are inspected at any one time.
Regarding women going through – there’s no arrangement for a separate passageway, and if they’re allotted specific times it will only delay the men and make them angry at the women.
He considers it an achievement that people get through the inspections in what he feels is a short time.
The flow of people exiting has stopped. Moshe says that all the workers have left. From time to time one or two people go through the checkpoint.
7:50 We left. On the way to the car we saw that the leak from the bathroom had stopped, but not the odors, which accompanied us for some distance.