Eyal Crossing, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
4:45 The area is already full of people who have passed through the checkpoint. On our way to the separation barrier we notice a new guard post, placed where it can limit access to the fence. So far it isn't manned, but we suspect the plan is to prevent us from seeing the Palestinians entering the checkpoint.
By the fence, the usual commotion with people crammed into the several lines. As usual, the women's line is full of men. (Later a woman who had passed through complained to us that they weren't letting women go to the head of the line. She wanted us to do something about it, but added, it isn't the fault of the Jews, our own people are responsible....) A roar of discontent, this time from within the checkpoint building. The turnstiles are closed. After a few minutes a man and a woman walk back into Palestinian territory. We don't manage to catch their attention to ask why. The turnstiles open at 4:50.
5:00 On the Israeli side there is still only one turnstile in operation, though a second one was erected next to it. Even when the pressure of people trying to get out increases, the side gate is not opened. We can't get close enough to the door to see how many stations are active or how the checkpoint employees behave. Comments from the people coming out are "Is this living?" "This life is garbage." One man trilled "Rrrrrr..." the sound shepherds use to call their flocks.
5:45 The area is full of people and vehicles. Orderly rows of buses fill up and leave.
When we walk around the building to see the Palestinians entering the checkpoint, a guard in a tower tries to stop us. He says we aren't allowed to use the access road that runs along the separation barrier. We explain that we just want to see what's happening, and walk a few meters further. The entrance to the checkpoint, at least for the short time we observed it, was easy. Everyone who arrived passed through unimpeded.
6:25 When we arrived, the checkpoint was already open, people were passing through. A donkey cart was just going down the road. Everything looked calm and routine.