Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 20.12.09, Morning
The terminal opened on time, 4:00 AM, and people immediately started to pass through to the Israeli side. In the first hour, according to our count, about 1300 people had exited. Things slowed down after that because a bottle neck forms inside near the two x-ray machines that check parcels. We were not able to keep an accurate count of those coming out after the first hour. According to the Ecumenical Accompaniment Group, by 6:06AM 3,387 people had entered the terminal.
We took a casual survey of when the Palestinians leave their homes and what time they arrive at the terminal:
1) The people who succeeded in exiting within the first half hour had left their homes between 1:00AM and 2:30AM. They said that this was the only way to assure that they would have a place in line and could avoid all the crowding and pushing that happens later on. They had come from a number of villages: Qalqiliya, Burin, Ariabus, Eesof, Nablus, Jericho and Tamoon (Jordan Valley).
2) People who were exiting between 4:30AM and 5:00AM said they had left home around 3:00AM. Those who left home at 4:00AM were starting to exit only around 5:44AM.
Below are examples of people who told us when they left their village, when they arrived at Eyal and when they exited Eyal: A man from Nablus left home at 3:00AM, arrived at Eyal at 4:00AM, exited at 5:26AM.
A man who lives near Ariel left home at 3:10AM, arrived at Eyal at 3:40AM, exited at 5:10AM.
A man from Huwarra left home at 3:00AM, arrived at Eyal at 4:10AM and exited at 5:00AM.
A man from Nablus left home at 3:15AM, arrived at Eyal at 3:45AM and exited Eyal at 4:45AM.
A man from Zatajabaeed left home at 3:00AM, arrived at Eyal at 3:30AM, exited at 4:40AM
A man from Sulfeet left home at 3:00AM, arrived at Eyal at 3:20, exited at 4:30AM.
A man from Bedia left home at 3:45AM, arrived at Eyal at 4:30, exited at 5:45AM.
A man from Nablus left come at 3:00AM, arrived at Eyal at 4;50AM, and exited at 5:50AM
A man from Rujeeb left home at 2:30AM, arrived at Eyal at 4:00AM, and exited at 5:50AM.
A man from Nablus left home at 3:30AM, arrived at Eyal at 4:30AM and exited at 5:50AM.
A man from Oohreef left home at 3:30AM, arrived at Eyal at 4:30AM and exited at 5:55AM.
A man from Azun Atmah left home at 4:00AM and exited Eyal at 6:00AM.
Additional things we noticed today at Eyal are as follows:
1) There is an additional gate and turnstile about 50 meters from the exit of the terminal that has just recently been installed. We wondered why this got priority over a shelter from the rain for the Palestinians or for investing in another x-ray machine that checks the parcels.
2) There were a lot of people who complained about long lines which form on the way back from work, from about 3PM to 5PM.
3) Several men spoke of the humiliation when told to lower their pants or pull up their shirts. "I'm 50 years old. I have a permit. If they didn't trust me why did they give me a permit? A permit is supposed to show that I'm not dangerous. They ask me if I have a weapon. I'm going to come through the checkpoint with a gun? Do they think I'm crazy?"
4) When people are asked randomly to step into a special room for an additional inspection, it can take as long as extra half hour of waiting. As the people enter the terminal, there is a guard who indicates who is to enter the "rooms". If someone ignores this order or doesn't realize they are indicating him and continues toward the booths where IDs are checked, all processing stops and the exit door is locked until he has been identified and stopped. This happened several times during the shift.
5) There were requests for help in arranging for public transportation from the terminal to their places of work in Israel. The mini buses are considered costly and in some cases illegal and unsafe. They are sometimes stopped by the police.
6) We were told that when the Palestinians attempt to board the bus which goes from Tel Aviv to Ariel they are not allowed on. One man said when he attempted to board the bus on the Ga'ah intersection last Wednesday (16/12/09) at 6:30PM, the passengers, who were from the settlements, forced the driver to tell him to get off. We are going to try and check this out. This is a very disturbing event. These buses which were run by Dan until October 2009 are now run by a company called Afakim.