Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 17.7.11, Morning
04:05 Irtach "Good morning" on the loud speakers, the checkpoint opens. Behind the loud speaker is a young woman. Her shouts - "You can't right now", "Get over to the side", can be heard from far away. After a few minutes, a young man takes her place, who manages to do the same job without screaming and humiliating. When he shouts at a woman to open up her bag and show what it contains, he sends her on her with "OK, have a good day!" ,definitely more pleasant for everybody. Although Sunday is usually the most crowded, today only a few hundred people are waiting. We can see the end of the line and also the people who are now arriving. This is a real improvement - only a few months ago there would be waiting here at 02:00, thousands of angry Palestinian workers. Only one turnstyle is operating, through which 30 people pass from the time it opens with a click and closes with a boom. The women who are in line with the men are allowed through first by the magnometer. And there, as always, boxes are put on the side and sometimes even shoes. Whoever puts down a bag, rather than an object, is called to the window to show what is in the bag.
At 04:15 one can already see people emerging from the checkpoint, in the parking lot. They had a swift passage through. We followed one young man: from the time of his entrance into the first turnstyle until we saw him come out, 10 minutes passed. But this, of course, is not always the case. One young woman had already waited 30 minutes for her sister who was being checked in one of the rooms and was very worried lest they miss their transportation. The contractor had already called and asked where they were. Meanwhile, we see that 3 windows are open at the exit; nevertheless, most of those going through told us that today was quick because they weren't taking people into rooms. Two young women from EAPPi are on the Palestinian side. They came to the checkpoint for the first time today but know exactly what to expect, why to observe and how to behave. According to their observation: 04:05-04:30, 556 men and 56 women went through; 04:30-05:00, 931 men and 14 women.
04:55 Majdah, who was waiting for her sister, called to tell us that she had finally emerged (50 min. inspection!). There is a full moon and the darkness breaks: unspeakable beauty. 05:10 The turnstyle jams. Now they go by way of a gate which no one had ever seen open up (humanitarian gate?). Halil, a Palestinian who apparently works at the checkpoint (cleaning?), is responsible for opening and closing it. There are still 300 workers waiting to enter. They go through the gate in order, in a row, about 120-150, and then they ask "Halil, close up" ,after a few minutes, "Halil, open!" It is more pleasant without the metallic sound of the turnstyle. The people smile at us. EAPPI: They turned someone back and Ida hurried over to him and asked why: his finger print did not match. Another one returned and told us that his magnetic ID card was no good (not uptodate?) and that he has to go to the DCO to fix it. 05:00-05:30 740 men and 18 women. Ida, from Sweden, brings me her EAPPI business card, on which is her name and her email address, and that she belongs to the
Tulkarm team. She is quite impressed by the successful organization of EAPPI and, if one can judge by the information on the business card, they are truly well organized. She asked for our telephone nos. in order to know whether we will be here next Sunday as well.
05:50 No line. Whoever arrives, goes right through, the gate is open. 05:30-05:50, 782 men and 9 women passed through.
06:20 Eyal There are a lot of people and vehicles in the parking lot. We try to avoid the irritable checkpoint commander, so we remain on the Israeli side and I immediately call Sandra from the EAPPI, who is on the Palestinian side. She is under the impression that the traffic is very slow. From 04:00-06:30, 4,093 people went through. At 06:30, there was a line of about 100 outside the checkpoint. Outside, we asked several people how long it took them to go through; most answered 20-30 minutes.