Eyal Crossing, Sun 6.12.09, Morning
Today there were no particular holdups. The terminal opened on time (4:00AM), it wasn't raining or particularly cold, 3,100 people passed through from 4:00AM – 6:15 AM, five to seven booths (according to the number of people passing through) where IDs are checked were manned, and both x-ray machines for checking parcels were working.
This description of a smooth day does not, however, give the larger picture of what is happening. People start to wait on line from 3AM or earlier after coming from villages near and far. One never knows ahead of time if it will be a good day or not so just to be sure one has to come early. After waiting on line outside for perhaps an hour or more, the time spent in the terminal is another half hour.
Since there are only two x-ray machines, the area near the x-ray machine is crowded and there is often pushing and shouting. The Palestinians complain of the "rooms" they are put in as an additional random check where they are crowded in like sardines and never know how long they will have to wait and if they will be told to remove some or all of their clothes. Food that they bring along for a meal during the day is suspect and is limited by inconsistent and changing rules.
The guards in the terminal are often rude and disrespectful. We often hear the shouting from outside the terminal and today one of the managers was standing outside the exit telling people not to pray near the exit. His tone was condescending as if he were speaking to naughty school children.
There is some kind of additional x-ray machine that one must step into which arouses concern of causing cancer and one man told us that the days he must go through that machine he has a headache the rest of the day. (We have not gotten a clear answer about this from a doctor. It seems it is like the cell phones where accurate research has not yet been done.)
Once a person passes through to the Israeli side there is an additional wait for a ride to work. Those who have come early to avoid the crush sit around the parking lot trying to keep warm or dry depending on the weather. There is still no shelter from rain.
Even having passed through all of the above the road is still not smooth. We spoke with a worker who was on his way to Ramat Gan where his contractor was waiting for him. As we were talking to him he suddenly got a call that there would be no work that day. The contractor had promised that he would call by Saturday night if there were no work but he simply neglected to keep his promise.