Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Tue 8.10.13, Morning
03:50 – 04:50 Irtach
There’s congestion all through the maze; it begins on the entry path on the Palestinian side where the stands selling food and drinks are located.
Women sit in groups in the field near the women’s gate.
The revolving gates opened exactly at 4 AM and men rushed to the inner waiting area. The women’s gate on the side opened for 15 minutes. A long, congested line formed immediately in the courtyard; the cage and the winding maze were very crowded.
Women begin coming through after the first wave of men, bypassing the line and going straight to its head – the entrance to the inspection building. That’s how it was during the whole time we were there; apparently that’s the new arrangement the Palestinians reached among themselves. At 04:15 the women’s gate was locked. The women now didn’t wait on the line along the covered path but detoured through the field and joined the line at the end of the low concrete barrier bordering the path, at the entry to the maze. That’s the crowded area which we believe is the core of the problem.
This morning the electrical revolving gates were opened continuously and not, as usual, intermittently, except for a three-minute break. The flow of men and women slackened about 04:45.
There were two stations in the facility for inspecting documents during the first ten minutes; subsequently there were five stations operating all the time and people went through at a reasonable rate. We timed the process: it took ten minutes for people to go through the inspection facility from entering the revolving gates to emerging on the other side.
In the past there had been an additional gate and an additional revolving gate which could have served as a separate line for women. They could have joined the line in the inner courtyard. The fence separating the lane that had been closed from the inner courtyard has two gates, so it would be easy to arrange. It seems to us that would be a reasonable request to make it easier for the women.
Almost all the women are agricultural workers. This is the season for strawberries and flowers so they earn less that most of the men. They have almost no contact with Hebrew speakers in those jobs so it’s hard for them to speak anything other than Arabic, and they have almost no other employment networks. Most of the women cross through Irtach, only a few through Eyal.
05:10 – 06:00
When we reached Eyal it was already filled with people, taxis and buses. For the past seven months two bus routes have been operating – Metropolitan 211 and Afiqim 210 – which arrive every five minutes at this hour and fill up rapidly. They make many stops, both on the route to Kfar Saba and Netanya and on the route to Petah Tiqwa and Bnei Braq. They’re cheaper than taxis, and apparently more convenient.
People at Eyal said that the crossing went reasonably well today; in both locations they said that it will be more crowded when the citrus harvest begins.
For example: Someone coming from a village in the Jordan Valley, like Kusra, leaves home at 03:30, and emerges from the inspection facility at about 05:30.
Some of the people passing by commented “it’s terrible,” “it’s only getting worse,” while another said, ironically, “Why do you bother coming, everything’s great, we’ve got a good country that allows Palestinians to work, there’s transportation, what more do we need?”
The mass prayers at Eyal in the large canopied area were held according to Israeli time, at 05:20.