Eyal Crossing, Sun 5.9.10, Morning
04:12 – 06:30
We arrived at Eyal at 04:12. The Ecumenical Accompaniers on the Palestinian side told us that the terminal had opened on time at 04:00. They told us there was the usual very long line of people waiting to enter the terminal. The long line lasted until 05:30. After that time, people continued to arrive but they no longer had to wait on line before entering the terminal.
By the time we left at 06:20 about 3,500 people had exited the terminal. The Ecumenical Accompaniers counted 4,300 who had entered the terminal by 06:30. There is about a half hour processing period between entering the terminal on the Palestinian side and leaving on the Israeli side.Those who left the terminal from 06:00 on were very pleased. They said that for some reason there was no longer a lot of pushing and waiting in the terminal as there usually is on a Sunday morning.
A particularly annoying problem this morning was the final turnstile that the Palestinians have to pass through before exiting into the Israeli side. This turnstile is outside the terminal itself. Randomly, as often as every half a minute, the turnstile would jam and people would either be startled by their being stuck between bars or they would be bumped by one of the bars as it stopped unexpectedly. This slowed down the pace and caused a long line up of people waiting to pass through.
After this went on for over an hour, Micky called the DCO. Within 15 minutes the side door which is not a turnstile but a regular door was opened and the Palestinians were given free passage. About five minutes after this, Shimon the manager came by to ask us how things were. He said he was getting the turnstile fixed. However, according to the Palestinians we talked to, this turnstile has been out of order for a month or so and this is the first time that the side door was opened instead.
Shimon wanted to show us the Palestinian side of the terminal from behind the back gate. We use to be allowed access to this side but haven't been allowed there for a year. Since this was after 05:30, the long line waiting to enter was no longer there although Micky did see the steady stream of people still moving into the terminal.
There was a complaint by a man who has a permit to stay over 4 nights a week in Israel that he has not been allowed to bring in rice. It is cheaper to buy the rice on the Palestinian side and that is what he eats during the week. According to Shimon, anything over 4 kilos of rice is considered commercial and therefore it can only be allowed in after 08:00. Before that, there is no time to check the product. This man who complained, however, can not come after 08:00 because he must be at work before that.