Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Mon 7.12.09, Morning
This morning it is raining constantly and there is no shelter from the rain under an umbrella, and certainly none when there are hundreds or thousands of people who refer to all of us as “Tziona”.
04:00 - We arrived a few minutes before 04:00. Through the darkness and fog we could only see silhouettes of people huddled in front of the turnstiles at the entrance to the path leading to the inspection points.
People are looking for any possible shelter from the rain and the road leading from the direction of Tulkarem to the turnstile is empty.
Despite the fact that it is already time to open, the checkpoint is not yet operating.
04:23 - There is sign of the gates opening: no announcement or noise of clattering metal, but the crowd moves in the direction of the turnstiles and only the sound of talking can be heard.
04:27 - Finally there is a sign: green lights come on in the turnstiles and the male voice on the loudspeakers (and the invisible eye) jokingly says: “There's a little rain, Good morning. You'll be going in a minute, don't forget…followed by a series of instructions in Arabic. Have a nice day. We'll open in a minute…” and then adds: “I see that Tziona is here, too, and has come to celebrate with you.”
The turnstile begins to operate and people begin to run and the loudspeaker continues to call out “Shwayeh, shwayeh” (Slow down, slow down). “I don't want to see…Don't put your bags on the side…Maa Salaam, Shalom, Bye Bye, Taali, taali…(ome, come)…Don't push, Don't push, Yalla, if you push I'll stop…OK, I'm closing…” Checkpoint “culture” is here whether the operators are soldiers or civilians.
We moved to the area of the exit.
04:30 - People began to come out of the facility into the rain that was coming down even harder. Luckily there was almost no wind, but people were still getting wet, even those who had umbrellas or raincoats.
The wooden awnings that were put up above the exit area have enough room for about 30 people underneath. People are standing there and more people continue to come out. They have no choice but to earn a living and they continue to wards the parking lot. A woman who came out complains that women and men have to go through together and this is not good. A man complains that they did not open the restrooms. Naomi goes to talk about this with the security guard in the parking lot (who says that the parking lot is “private”. The restrooms are opened.
Because of the people standing underneath the awning we could not estimate how quickly people were coming out. At 05: 00 we counted 16 people each minute, but when we were there people continued to come out all the time.
We were very wet and felt just as despaired as the other people getting wet in the rain and left quickly.
05:18 - We left and saw that people who had been standing on the “Palestinian” side of the checkpoint were now huddling underneath the awning next to the parking lot near the exit. The area of the shelter was limited and people were standing on the benches and any place where they could avoid getting wet. There was not enough room there for many of them.
05:50 - Eyal
The area in front of the checkpoint that is usually filled with cars and people waiting for rides and employers is relatively empty. Here and there are small groups of people huddling together under plastic sheets or an umbrella. The rain prevents anyone from lighting a campfire to keep warm. Here, too, people complain about the lack of any suitable shelter.
We spoke with a person who works in the welding shop in Petah Tikva. He has been at the checkpoint since 05:00 and is waiting for his employer to pick him up at 06:30. Why then does he come so early? Because you can never know how long it will take to get through. There's nothing like uncertainty to discipline and control people.