Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Dawn. The routine is a little easier
Since we were told that the checkpoint now opens at 3:45, we decided to arrive early and see it for ourselves. When we arrived we saw the new parking lot, paved and seemingly ready, but not yet in use - why not?
We arrived at the separation barrier before the gates opened. We spoke to people who were waiting patiently, with no crowding or shoving. We didn't see anyone climbing over the barbed wire to get to the head of the line.
The new structure now has walls, but still no roof.
3:46 The gates opened. The man on the loudspeaker sounded reasonable, and the flow of traffic was regular. We picked some individuals to watch, and moved around to the Israeli side.
3:51 The first people already passed through security, and were waiting by the exit turnstile that was still locked. The people we chose to watch took in ten minutes to pass through.
4:00 We returned to the barrier. There was still the feeling of ease. No one tried to climb over the fence, the line flowed quickly.
We decided to check out Eyal, since we read reports of trouble early in the morning there.
4:20 A lot of people already passed through the checkpoint and were waiting for buses. The grounds have organized facilities - water faucets, seating areas - but we no longer found a way to walk around the building as we did months ago. We found a place where we could see the entrance to the building. The turnstile never stopped. The rate of entrance was slow but steady. It seems that a few people manage to avoid waiting. We spoke to one man who came from the side, and asked him why he didn't wait in the long line. He said he was an overseer, that there were a dozen or so like him scattered around. We picked a person to watch, it took him 8 minutes to pass through the checkpoint.
Someone at the exit told us there was trouble at the entrance. We returned there. We couldn't see what was happening, but we heard shouts. We saw a group of women come around the side - evidently they aren't expected to pass through the slalom with the men. One young man followed them and eased himself into the head of the line. The people waiting in the slalom seemed at ease
4:45 Two buses started loading passengers, one marked Tel Aviv and the other marked Zofin. Zofin is in the occupied territory. Why do workers need to come to the checkpoint and cross into Israel in order to return to occupied territory? What a pain!