Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
04:20 Irtah/Sha'ar Efrayim
A group of women are walking on the path, probably on their way to work in agriculture. They are still obliged to push their way among the men in order to pass the checking track.
When we approached the CP we had the impression that there were no people waiting in the queue, it was a moment of quiet. Within seconds we noticed hands holding the turnstiles, and the voices grew louder. Also the sounds of turning turnstiles returned, people shouting, young men justling onto the fence and into the queue, and thundering tins.
The crowding is horrible as it is every morning, and the humiliation…There is an unpleasant feeling that we observe them in these inhuman conditions.
Every few minutes the turnstiles became free and 15-20 workmen went in, through the yard, to be checked.
The people who came out from the other side told us that inside there are only three checking rooms although they could use 4 and also the 16 posts that are there.
Within seconds, perhaps as a routine patrol, or because of the sight of the young people climbing up the fence above the enclosure, a command-car with three soldiers arrived. They shouted at the climbers, directed the weapons at them and even let cocking noises be heard. After about a quarter of an hour and more threats with weapons directed at more young men who climbed the fence, the commandcar left. When Liora asked the soldiers about the length of the queue, one of them, who wore a skullcap, told her:
We are the army of occupation. We will not be interviewed by you.
After they disappeared they did not return throughout our shift, also the young men continued to climb the fence and to push into the queue. What seemed minutes ago a security threat which must be threatened by weapons, now was ignored.
About ten workmen were returned to the yard on the pretext that they were too young, or some workmen who pass every day weren't allowed to pass this time. For a long time they stood in the inner yard, while every few minutes "the big brother" ordered them to leave. But this isn't possible… Finally they succeeded somehow to infiltrate out, some by climbing the fence.
Nurit talked with a few young men and tells us:
"I stood next to the fence which borders on the Palestinian side of the CP and tried to take photographs which would reflect the condition of the workmen who are waiting in a terrible congestion in the passage which is fenced in and surrounded by coiled barbed wire, and which leads to the turnstiles and from there to the checking posts.
A group of young men stood on the other side of the fence and watched me taking photos. They were prohibited from entering. One of the young men, who looked very downcast and depressed asked me very determinedly to stop taking photos.
I entered into a conversation with him and another young man (in English). In the course of the conversation they began trusting me and asked me to come on the coming Sunday and stand in the same place, as then the congestion is worse and there are people who faint because of the crowdedness. They asked me what organization I belonged to. I answered and even spelled it out in English so that they should be able to follow our activities on the Internet. I explained that we were against that occupation and the proceedings at the checkpoints.
One of them gave me his Facebook address so that I should contact him, and showed me his lawyer's license. He had finished his studies at the A-Nagah university, and is now looking for work as a farmer. This is what his license is worth, but even this doesn't work out as because of his young age – 24 – he cannot get a passage endorsement.
His 26 year old friend finished engineering studies and is in the same situation. They are from Jenin and will return just as they have come. The trip to Irtah cost them 20 shekel, and now they have to pay a similar amount to return. Another frustrating day is awaiting them. Their eyes express their hopelessness. They hope to save enough money to get to the U.S.A. There they see their future".
5.20-5.45They stopped letting workmen enter (coffee break for the people who check?). Most of this time passed without complaints, but then, probably because it was getting later and the workmen began to worry about their workday, loud shouts began and stomping on the cans.
Those who left already reported that "inside there is a great mess and only three checking posts are open". We tried to phone DCO Tulkarem. No answer.
Suddenly the turnstiles were opened and enabled a flow of about 70 workmen to enter together into the interior courtyard. From then until we left at 6.20 it was possible to enter the courtyard in very big groups and the checking was performed very quickly, contrary to the usual.
Why is it not possible to act according to this procedure on a permanent basis??????
On the exit side we talked with some workmen who came out and moved to the parking lot. All have the same complaints, on the degrading treatment and on the long hours they are forced to be out of their homes in order to make a living. One of them said "I don't see my kids at all. I return at 7-8 in the evening and at 2.00 at dawn on the next day I am leaving again".
An elderly man talked with great anger.He is 48 and has 7 children, and the guard, a young woman of 19 at the CP, treats him as one treats a donkey. At the beginning of the conversation he said: "you cannot help at all". We explained that all we do is documenting and telling the world what happens at the checkpoints. After he poured out his bitterness he was calmer and wished us good health.
Another man came to ask about Sylvia. He said he tries to contact her but there is no reply. There must be a mistaken number. We again gave him he telephone number and reminded him that he has to phone in the morning.
6.50 Eyal Passage. The way from Irtah to Eyal lasted a long time because of a great traffic load on the roads. We arrived at the Eyal passage when the flow of exiting people was already very thin. The workmen said that the checking lasts about half an hour and there is no prolonged waiting at the entrance.
At the parking lot there were many cars and tens of workmen. Were they waiting for their employers or for a chance job?
The general traffic load and the short stay at Eyal caused us to enter traffic jams, we arrived at Tel Aviv after 9.00. It's not sure whether this is worthwhile. If one wants to visit there aswell one must shorten the observation time at Irtah.