Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 13.12.09, Morning

Annelien K., Hanna A. (reporting); Natanya translating

The priorities are very clear as to investments in the "side checkpoints." Beautiful landscaping, which requires a lot of water and, another turnstile on the path leaving the checkpoint of Eyal.

The checkpoint is still not working. It is cold but luckily for the workers there is no rain. One can see that the path leading to the first turnstile in the system leading into the terminal is filled with people. Women gather together near it. On the Palestinian side of the checkpoint, international observers are watching. They are giving people a note to see how long it takes for them to get from one side of the checkpoint to the other.
4.35 Without notice the lights of the turnstiles change to green and people are trampling one another, there is no other word for it, to get to the sleeves which lead into the terminal. We went to the exit.
We "admired" the gardening on the way: Big stones which line the side of the pavement, and where there is no pavement (from the right of the exit to the parking lot), soft but strong saplings of various sorts, and of course the drip irrigation system.  All this, while the water problem on the West Bank is well known and Israel is has initiated a drought tax. Has this landscaping been developed especially for the checkpoints?
4.40 A proclamation by loudspeaker. "The beginning of the work, the beginning of the passage."
4.43 The first workers come out. It took 8 minutes from the moment the checking procedure took place until the exit.
4.45 A woman comes out and says, "Tell them that the women should be separate. The women ask for a separate entrance."
4.48 Another woman says, "The whole time things are not right, they are not right" and demonstrates with her hand how different parts of her body are inspected during the bodily search.
Between 4.47 - 5.02  (5 minutes) 155 people came through.
Between 5.20 - 5.25 125 people came through. All this time no one handed over the note that they had received from the international observers. Men who have taken off their belts while being checked put them on again outside the terminal. We went to the area of the entrance to say goodbye to the internationals. They say that on the Palestinian side the fence at one place has collapsed and they have informed the humanitarian centre. They say that about 2,500 people are waiting to go inside.
5.33 A man comes back from the terminal. He does not respond to us and so we do not know the reason.  Each time the turnstile opens about 15 people enter.
5.40 We left.

5.52 People are already crowding together at the side of the parking lot. There's a smell of fire in the air.
We go towards the entrance and see' in the middle of the lane from which the people exit, a turnstile and next to it a gate. One of the people coming out says to us, "I think this is for you so that you will not be able to see." He says that another one has been put up on the other side of the checkpoint, in the direction of Qalqiliya.  He says they were put up last Tuesday. We contacted the international observers who were on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint and are told that the pace has been good, 3,500 people have passed and 5 were sent back because their permits had expired.  We were glad to meet our friend M., one of the owners of the kiosks at the Huwwara checkpoint, who had found work in Israel.
A pipe is leaking water next to the lane outside the fences which enclose the checkpoint.
6.25 We left.