Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)

Observers: 
Esti (photographing), Sna’it (reporting), Translator: Charles K.
14/10/2014
|
Morning

Irtach, Eyal

 

 

Irtach  03:55-05:45

Two soldiers stood at the entrance to the Irtach road.  They stopped our car and tried to tell us the checkpoint was closed.  We’ll return to their “announcement” later in this report.  We made a u-turn and drove in through the road.

 

A new layout

The regular parking lot directly opposite the gatesinfo-icon to the inspection station and its courtyard is completely blocked by large boulders; no taxis waited there.

We later realized the parking area for vehicles picking up people has been moved to a location beyond the existing one.  We don’t know whether the arrangement is temporary or permanent.  In any case the distance people must now walk is significantly longer – even in the rain.  The new lot is next to a new concrete structure under construction – large, with a curved façade.

 

There’s also much construction in the rear, next to the lane people walked along to enter the inspection station courtyard.  The entire lot where women would wait in winter beside improvised bonfires has now been excavated and a concrete building constructed.  The entire project is hidden from view by fairly high galvanized metal fences.  The former zigzag route of the Irtach checkpoint is almost completely hidden by concrete barriers and metal sheeting; the current route is somewhat straighter and therefore very crowded.  Those waiting are now too far from the stands selling cheap food or drink under the canopy on the other side of the fence.

 

How people cross

There’s no possibility under the current arrangements for women to wait off to the side and enter first in a group, so they enter much later, after the first waves of men have passed through the revolving gates at the entrance, the courtyard, the inspection rooms and the computers that validate their permits.  Most of the women are elderly seasonal agricultural workers.  The revolving gates at the entry opened at 04:05.  It took 7-10 minute to go through while we were there.  The revolving gates at the exit from the inspection facility occasionally stopped for 1-3 minutes between 04:15 and 05:00, interrupting the flow of people exiting.  That caused immediate congestion in the corridor where people waited.  People complained about the crowding and congestion, and about the rudeness of three or four of the inspectors.  Many described what happened last Sunday.  A few said they arrive very early to be at the head of the line and avoid the terrible congestion.  To do so they must leave home even earlier.  Others complained about how much they must pay for transportation (no public buses serve this checkpoint).  About 120 people exited in four minutes while we were there, with breaks between one wave and the next.  So it’s reasonable to conclude that about 3000 people cross through Irtach.  Many of those who exited waited in the courtyard or along the road and fences beyond.  A large flow of people toward the distant parking lot began only around 05:45, as well as toward the main road (bus service begins at 05:45). 

 

People also complained that there’s not always convenient transportation when they return from distant workplaces.  The security company closes the checkpoint at 18:45, even though the permit is valid until 19:00.  Latecomers must walk to the main road and find transport to other checkpoints where they must argue to be permitted to go through to get home.

 

Relatives of prisoners cross on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 08:00.

 

Harassment by soldiers

Apparently the soldiers who tried to prevent our entry notified others of our arrival.  Later an army jeep appeared, driven by a soldier wearing a yarmulke.  He tried to interfere with our conversations with Palestinians outside the fence, shining a blinding spotlight on us.  He also followed us aggressively when we went to see what was happening at the revolving gates at the entrance, sounded the horn loudly and shone the projector.  We ignored him and his efforts completely.  He must finally have become fed up and left.  The jeep’s number is צ 655254.

 

We should emphasize that soldiers, unlike the police or the Border Police, have no authority to search or inspect our belongings and clothing in any manner.  They’re required to identify themselves.  They’re forbidden to interfere with our observing the checkpoints.  They may prevent our entry only with a military order specific to the prohibited location bearing the appropriate date and the signature of the area commander.

 

06:00-06:45  Eyal

Heavy rain fell briefly as we reached Eyal.  People tried to huddle together under the large canopy in the parking lot and under the canopy at the exit from the inspection facility.  Even at this relatively late hour there was a heavy, crowded flow of people coming out.  Public buses (Afikim, Route 211) quickly filled and left.

 

At both Eyal and Irtach they said Sundays are hard because so many people come through, and Friday is hard because the checkpoints open only at 05:00.

 Irtach, Eyal, Tuesday, 14.10.14, dawn

Observers:  Esti (photographing), Sna’it (reporting)

Translator:  Charles K.

 

Irtach  03:55-05:45

Two soldiers stood at the entrance to the Irtach road.  They stopped our car and tried to tell us the checkpoint was closed.  We’ll return to their “announcement” later in this report.  We made a u-turn and drove in through the road.

 

A new layout

The regular parking lot directly opposite the gates to the inspection station and its courtyard is completely blocked by large boulders; no taxis waited there.

We later realized the parking area for vehicles picking up people has been moved to a location beyond the existing one.  We don’t know whether the arrangement is temporary or permanent.  In any case the distance people must now walk is significantly longer – even in the rain.  The new lot is next to a new concrete structure under construction – large, with a curved façade.

 

There’s also much construction in the rear, next to the lane people walked along to enter the inspection station courtyard.  The entire lot where women would wait in winter beside improvised bonfires has now been excavated and a concrete building constructed.  The entire project is hidden from view by fairly high galvanized metal fences.  The former zigzag route of the Irtach checkpoint is almost completely hidden by concrete barriers and metal sheeting; the current route is somewhat straighter and therefore very crowded.  Those waiting are now too far from the stands selling cheap food or drink under the canopy on the other side of the fence.

 

How people cross

There’s no possibility under the current arrangements for women to wait off to the side and enter first in a group, so they enter much later, after the first waves of men have passed through the revolving gates at the entrance, the courtyard, the inspection rooms and the computers that validate their permits.  Most of the women are elderly seasonal agricultural workers.  The revolving gates at the entry opened at 04:05.  It took 7-10 minute to go through while we were there.  The revolving gates at the exit from the inspection facility occasionally stopped for 1-3 minutes between 04:15 and 05:00, interrupting the flow of people exiting.  That caused immediate congestion in the corridor where people waited.  People complained about the crowding and congestion, and about the rudeness of three or four of the inspectors.  Many described what happened last Sunday.  A few said they arrive very early to be at the head of the line and avoid the terrible congestion.  To do so they must leave home even earlier.  Others complained about how much they must pay for transportation (no public buses serve this checkpoint).  About 120 people exited in four minutes while we were there, with breaks between one wave and the next.  So it’s reasonable to conclude that about 3000 people cross through Irtach.  Many of those who exited waited in the courtyard or along the road and fences beyond.  A large flow of people toward the distant parking lot began only around 05:45, as well as toward the main road (bus service begins at 05:45). 

 

People also complained that there’s not always convenient transportation when they return from distant workplaces.  The security company closes the checkpoint at 18:45, even though the permit is valid until 19:00.  Latecomers must walk to the main road and find transport to other checkpoints where they must argue to be permitted to go through to get home.

 

Relatives of prisoners cross on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 08:00.

 

Harassment by soldiers

Apparently the soldiers who tried to prevent our entry notified others of our arrival.  Later an army jeep appeared, driven by a soldier wearing a yarmulke.  He tried to interfere with our conversations with Palestinians outside the fence, shining a blinding spotlight on us.  He also followed us aggressively when we went to see what was happening at the revolving gates at the entrance, sounded the horn loudly and shone the projector.  We ignored him and his efforts completely.  He must finally have become fed up and left.  The jeep’s number is צ 655254.

 

We should emphasize that soldiers, unlike the police or the Border Police, have no authority to search or inspect our belongings and clothing in any manner.  They’re required to identify themselves.  They’re forbidden to interfere with our observing the checkpoints.  They may prevent our entry only with a military order specific to the prohibited location bearing the appropriate date and the signature of the area commander.

 

06:00-06:45  Eyal

Heavy rain fell briefly as we reached Eyal.  People tried to huddle together under the large canopy in the parking lot and under the canopy at the exit from the inspection facility.  Even at this relatively late hour there was a heavy, crowded flow of people coming out.  Public buses (Afikim, Route 211) quickly filled and left.

 

At both Eyal and Irtach they said Sundays are hard because so many people come through, and Friday is hard because the checkpoints open only at 05:00.