Sunday is usually when the most people cross through the Eyal terminal to Israel. There are the day workers as well as those who have passes to stay over night. According to the Ecumenical Accompaniment group, who we are in constant contact with and who are on the Palestinian side,
4, 200 people entered the terminal between 4:00AM and 7:00AM today. We can not keep an accurate count but by the time we stopped counting it was 6:45AM and approximately 3,200 had exited from the terminal. It seems that from about 300 to 500 people can be in the terminal at any one time. This is just an estimation since
we have no way of knowing for sure.
The flow of people coming out of the terminal from 4:00AM seemed to go smoothly or at least there weren't complaints from the Palestinians on their way out. The complaints started around 5:50AM. This was also when we started to hear the noise of an irritated crowd from inside the terminal. It seems that at about that time there was a back up at the x-ray machines that check the parcels that people are carrying. There are only two x-ray machines for such a large flow of people. This back up seemed to continue until we left at 6:50AM.
The checking booths near the exit from the terminal which is the last stop before exiting did not seem to be backed up. Even when only 5 or 6 out of the 8 booths were open, there did not seem to be a line forming at the booths. People were moving through that line at an even pace.
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Group handed out their cards to some of the Palestinians about to enter the terminal. On the card was written the time.
The Palestinians then gave us the card on the way out. The passage through the terminal took a half hour when they were not told to go for the extra random check in the waiting rooms. Those who had to go through the extra checking procedure were held up an additional 15 to 40 minutes.
One Palestinian told us it took him one hour and fifteen minutes from the time he arrived at the check point until he exited from the terminal. Another person who had arrived at 4:30AM did not exit the terminal until 6:11AM. It seems that those who were already on line at 4:00AM moved through the terminal faster then those who arrived even a half hour later.
According to the Ecumenical Accompaniment Group there were about 1,200 people on line at 4:00AM, that same amount at 4:43AM, several hundreds of people at 5:22AM and at 6:08AM, about 50 people at 6:35AM and about twenty at 6:50AM.
Mickey was told by several people about the problem with taking food through the terminal. Not all foods are allowed and only small amounts -- what the guards feel looks like one day's worth. A man who has a permit to stay a week once brought 2 fish and he was told to throw them away. This was true when he brought a whole chicken as well. Another man said he had to throw away a container of shampoo that he had brought to wash up after work because he was told it was not allowed. Small containers of juice are also not allowed. It seems a person can bring a couple of pitas and a few vegetables and a small can of something like sardines.
There were complaints about there not being a shelter against rain on the Israeli side. There were also complaints about there not being a person to whom the Palestinians can turn to when there is a problem in the terminal.
One man told us of his brother who is 32 years old and has 4 young children (3 to 7 years old) with another child on the way. He had a permit to work with a contractor in Karnei Shomron. Last week when the contractor went to renew the permit for him, the DCO told him that they could not allow it because the person was a security problem. This man has no idea why he is considered a security risk.
Mickey was told by a man who comes from Jenin that he must leave Jenin at 3:30AM in order to pass through the check point and get to work at time. He does this on Sundays. However, the rest of the week he rents a room in Qalqilyia with 3 other men for 1000 shekels (350 shekels a piece). This allows him to be closer to Eyal and then he doesn't have to start out as early and be so tired at work.