Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Wed 30.3.11, Morning
Translator: Hanna K.
Irtah/Sha'ar Ephraim Crossing
Complete darkness all around. A pale neon lights here and there, it is extremely cold, the vehicles for the transportation of the workmen are waiting already, fences, barbed wire, warning signposts and extreme crowdedness among those waiting to enter. It seems they mowed down the vegetation along the fence.
04:04 The turnstiles are being opened. 50 persons enter, the turnstile is locked.
04:05 The women enter. We saw somebody in an orange vest locking the gate on the side after them. A few moments later he reopened it for 2-3 other women. The workmen said he was a Palestinian working at the installation.
Until 04:10 the turnstiles were opened every minute and all those who were waiting entered. Then everybody who arrives enters, the turnstiles remain meanwhile open.
We go to the exit from the installation. The first workmen, men and women, are already outside. All the checking posts are functioning.
Somebody calls out to us: "You must be cold. Why won't you sleep another hour?"
Others say, "today it's alright", a complaint concerning the late opening on Friday – at five o'clock, and last Friday at five fifteen. Somebody else called out to us while hurrying to leave "it is difficult inside" and we were not able to extract more from him.
04:30 The turnstiles turn around all the time. About thirty people leave every minute.
04:37 There is a big congestion at the exit.
From the north, on the road to Tul Karem, one can see a lively traffic of taxis which bring the workmen and return to town.
04:45 We returned to the entrance to the CP to see what the situation there was: the turnstiles are open and many people enter immediately upon their arrival.
04:50 The turnstiles are being closed and on the loudspeakers repeated calls in Arabic are heard.
Somebody returned. The turnstiles are being reopened but now they limit the entrance to 15-20 people at a time. A pressure is created and all the "slalom" is full of waiting people, just like at four o'clock in the morning. It seems the person who checks has been changed, as a more pleasant voice is heard on the loudspeaker, saying in Hebrew: Good morning, take out from your bags anything made of iron, tuna tins, and put them on the table, open coats, one after the other, and he even asks "to wait for a few moments" – (this is the first time we hear any utterance which takes into account how this looks from the Palestinian side).
05:25 There are bonfires around. The square is full of people, cars enter and exit. Somebody turns to us – he is very agitated and fears the damages the x-ray machine could cause. He tells us about a Palestinian doctor who was asked to be checked and refused. The doctor set in motion contacts he had at the hospital where he is working and was exempt from the check. (?)
People say that inside it takes 5 to 10 minutes, but that there is a long wait at the entrance to the installation.
We passed through the gate in order to see the Palestinian side, and indeed the shed is full of people, a congestion we didn't see before. In spite of this the walk towards the turnstiles is orderly.
Immediately the person responsible for the installation comes up to us, is furious that we entered without permission and demanded that we arrange the passage with them, by means of a request passed through the intercom.
As usual we heard a speech about how efficient the installation is, about the fact the Palestinians can rely on a quick passage, and that therefore, although it is opened at four, until 04.40 only about two hundred people arrive, and that within two hours they let pass 4000 people, etc. According to him until six o'clock the pressure will ease. We said we wanted to see this with our own eyes.
We also learned that they are acting to operate busses (finally). Recently they brought surveyors who talked with the Palestinians to check where they are working and whereto they need transportation (most of them in the Sharon and center area) and that within a few weeks a tender would be issued to a company which will operated the transportation, and that a month later it will begin to operate. Inshallah. At the moment they pay 10 shekels on their way to work, and double that on the way back, because of the heavy traffic.
We asked about the x-ray machine and according to him it operates on radio waves and is not harmful to one's health.
06:00 The manager indeed came out towards us and accompanied us to see the eastern side, and indeed there is no more pressure, whoever arrives enters immediately.
According to the people who approach us, for those who exit now the whole process takes about an hour and a quarter – one hours wait and a quarter of an hour for the checking.
06:20 we leave.
To sum up: Except for the splendid blossoming of chrysanthemums and poppies, at the checkpoint there is the old routine, the conflict, the occupation, have become transparent, and it doesn't really interest most of the Israelis, as Alon Idan writes in an article about the court at Offer – "to report from there is like writing with transparent ink". But it is impossible not to write.