Eliyahu Crossing, Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Mon 27.2.12, Morning
3:30 Eliyahu checkpoint
We went to see whether it still functions as a crossing for Palestinians entering Israel. It’s empty; clearly, Palestinians don’t go through here to Israel.
Dalya went there later the same day. She reported that only about 100 people with land in the Alfei Menasheh area are now allowed to cross through Eliyahu. They arrive at 05:00, and there’s almost no line because there aren’t many of them. Inspection is always very rigorous.
03:45 Eyal checkpoint
Very many vehicles bringing people to their workplaces were already waiting in the parking lot. A military armored vehicle was also there, something we hadn’t seen here for a long time. A soldier who approached us said there had been an alert regarding women having been removed from their cars and being left by the roadside. It was clear that the two soldiers who emerged from the car carefully checked the whole area of the checkpoint and its surroundings before they drove on.
The checkpoint apparently opens at 04:00, because people emerging from the inspection building began going through at 04:10. They came in dribs and drabs – 25 people in five minutes. This time we were permitted to observe the entry to the checkpoint and saw that the rate of people emerging was similar to the rate at which they entered. Here at Eyal was none of the congestion and crowding we’re familiar with at Irtach from the moment that checkpoint opens. One of the managers of the checkpoint who accompanied us said that an average of some 4300 people cross here daily; they know that the rate at which people are inspected is constant and continuous, so they arrive slightly later. And in fact, only at around 04:30-04:45 did the rate increase to 25 people per minute.
Both the entrance to the checkpoint and the exit from the inspection building are congested. One of the inspectors at the entrance usually detains one of the people in each group coming through the electric revolving gate and tells him over the loudspeaker – so everyone hears – to empty his bag or carryall. It seems to us primarily a way of controlling people. The result is to delay and keep people there longer. Three people were turned back; we weren’t able to determine why. Many people we spoke with complained that family members or friends didn’t receive permits to work in Israel, or that they’ve been blacklisted for a long time. Nur handed out notes we’d prepared in advance with Sylvia’s phone number; many people took them. Feelings of helplessness and despair colored most of our conversations.