Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Tue 8.3.11, Morning
03:55-04:30 Irtach (Efraim gate)
Dawn/morning, heavy downpours and lightning storms.
The revolving gates to the inspection building opened exactly at 04:00. The women waited until the turn of the third group to go through, before 04:05. On the other hand, the exit doors and revolving gate on the other side opened only around 04:10. Only three booths were open at the start, and only by about 04:30 were six manned. The first people came through at 04:15. The women came through only about 04:20. Whenever there was a heavy downpour beating on the ground, the people on line retreated to shelter under the rear canopy until the rain became a drizzle. They went through in dribs and drabs, so the revolving gates at the entrance were open continuously. When it rained people ran to shelter in the waiting cars or under the canopy next to the exit from where they usually waited. The canopy affords no protection at all from the wind and is too small to shelter all those exiting. We could see by the headlights of arriving cars that many small groups of people kept coming between 04:30 and 05:00. We don’t have enough data to indicate whether fewer people are now leaving through the Irtach checkpoint, or whether they’re less worried about being late because the crossing is better organized, so they can allow themselves to arrive later. According to one of the people who spoke to us, these checkpoints are quiet because Israel is in a defensive political and diplomatic situation.
05:10 – 06:10 Eyal
The weather is still stormy.
Many people arrived at Eyal, in a steady stream, during the entire time we were there. One told us that “this checkpoint is ok; you don’t have to come here any more.” Some people who used to cross via Irtach may now be crossing through Eyal because it’s better organized here. We don’t know; someone should find out. As we saw last week, at Eyal the lane from the shed at the other end of the fence to the inspection building is covered by a canopy, but there’s a fairly large exposed stretch about 180 meters long from the building’s exit to the parking area, to the kiosk which is partly sheltered and to the shed. The shed at Eyal is protected from the wind because it has walls on three sides. It’s larger than the shed at Irtach open to the wind. On the other hand, apparently because of a design error regarding the height of the road surface, the rainwater flows into the shed rather than out. People wishing to pray – who have to kneel and bend down – do so, therefore, along a elevated stretch of sidewalk some distance outside the canopy or along a cement strip farther away, along the fence, neither of which are at all protected from wind and rain.
The flow of people began to slacken slightly after 06:00.