Eyal Crossing, Thu 22.10.09, Morning
Before we arrived at the checkpoint, the Ecumenical Accompaniment people called us to tell us that the Eyal CP had opened at 3:59AM--a minute before time. We arrived at 4:09AM and people were already leaving the terminal on the Israeli side.
During the time we were at the CP, all 8 of the checking booths that are near the exit from the terminal (and are therefore visible) were open. This meant that no lines were formed at this final checking spot before entering the Israeli side. We were told by the Palestinians and the Ecumenical Accompaniment people that when there was a bottle neck it was on the line waiting for packages to be x-rayed inside the terminal which is before they get to the final checking booths. This bottle neck was from about 5:00AM until 6:00AM. It was during that hour that we heard a number of complaints about the amount of crowding and tension inside the terminal from the Palestinians themselves.
The Ecumenical Accompaniment people told us that when they arrived just before 4:00AM there were only about 80 people on line outside waiting for the terminal to open. During the time we were there they reported that there were usually about 50 people on line and the line was moving.
On the Israeli side people left the terminal at the rate of from 6 to 45 per minute. From 4:00AM to 5:00AM about 1300 people passed through the terminal. From 5:00AM to 6:00AM about 1050 people passed through. In the last twenty minutes that we were there, from 6:00AM until 6:20AM, 500 people passed through.
The Ecumenical people gave their card to a man who had just gotten on line on the Palestinian side at 5:45AM. They asked that the man give us their card when he arrived on the Israeli side. He handed us the card at 6:09AM. He was not held up in any of the "rooms". The "rooms" are an area where additional checks are made on a random basis. This can hold up people for another 10 to 30 minutes (or more). We have been told by the Palestinians that there are a series of very small rooms in which about 20 people at a time wait. Eight IDs are taken to be checked at a time. Another man who started his wait on line on the Palestinian side at 6:05AM, passed through to the Israeli side at 6:16AM. He also was not stopped for the extra check.
The exit turnstile was automatically locked for about a minute on the Israeli side at 5:11AM. We heard an announcement on the loudspeaker after that minute,"Return to the regular routine", and the turnstile was unlocked. We don't know the reason for the break.
One man stopped and asked for our help for a friend. About 2 months ago this friend's permit was taken away at the terminal because his son had been picked up by the army.
We again heard the request that some kind of shelter against rain be built in the parking lot. Hundreds of Palestinians must wait in the parking lot after they have left the terminal. Some wait for as long as 2 hours before they get a ride. At the moment there is a small shelter for about 20 people.
We were told that only small amounts of food are allowed through the terminal. A Palestinian told us that he had a bag of sugar and it was confiscated.