Eyal Crossing, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Thu 15.7.10, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
15:00 Habla agricultural gate - The gate just closed. No one was waiting.
15:15 Eyal crossing – People are crossing, but not many. Nothing worth noting.
15:30 Irtah crossing
We were surprised to see many people dressed festively waiting under the canopy at the entrance to the site. Someone who walked to the crossing along with us said that these are people on their way to visit relatives in Israeli prisons and waiting for taxis to take them home. He also said that there’s transportation for visitors 3-4 times a week, though each family is allowed a visit only once every six months!! When we reached our observation point we discovered that the inspection windows weren’t manned, which explained how many people were crossing quickly, without interruption, at this hour. Many complained about difficulties in the morning, but the reports aren’t consistent, some say they waited half an hour and others two and a half hours. (It seems to us that those who arrive very early in order to go through as soon as possible are the ones who wait a long time. Those saying they waited half an hour usually had arrived at the crossing at 05:30-06:00, not before). The complaints focus primarily on the long wait and crowding in the inspection rooms.
An older man had an additional complaint; he said that there’s usually a third, humanitarian corridor in the morning (for those aged 45 and older), where people cross without inspection, but it closes at 06:00.
16:05 On the way back to the car we stopped next to the canopy for people waiting to enter Israel. It seemed as though these weren’t the same people we saw when we entered – at least some of them weren’t. In response to our question, it turned out that they were all members of the Ahmadiyya sect, on their way to a two-day gathering at the Ahmadiyya center in the village of Kababir, on the Carmel. There were older and younger men, and one woman, all with entry permits to Israel.
16:25 Eyal crossing
Many people on their way home. The crossing flows. It turns out that those who don’t show their ID card pass through, as do those who do show their ID card (because they’re used to taking it out when they enter the checkpoint). Here, too, we were told, in response to our question, that sometimes the windows at the crossing are closed in the afternoon, and here too we heard complaints about how torturous the crossing is in the morning. Reports of waiting time ranged from three-quarters of an hour to an hour and a half.
16:55 Habla agricultural gate
The gate isn’t open yet. 30 people, a woman, a boy, donkeys and a tractor are waiting. There’s a new canopy open to the west, most of it in the broiling sun. The bench is in the shade.
17:02 The gate opens; people waiting already grouped themselves into fives. The soldiers check slowly and carefully, but politely. What’s know as “doing their job”…About 20-25 minutes later everyone has gone through.
Bottom line: On the face of it, there’s no heartrending distress, but life under military occupation is a blatant violation of the human right to freedom of movement and to move directly from one’s home to one’s fields. Everything depends on the opening and closing of gates that are usually locked.