Eyal, Ma'ale Efrayim, Sun 13.4.08, Morning

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Micki F. and Deb L. (reporting)

EYAL 4:47AM to 6:00AM

Micki had gotten reports from
Palestinians that last Sunday April 6, 2008 and Friday April 11, 2008
the situation at Eyal Crossing was very difficult. Similar to what we
reported two weeks ago on Sunday, March 30, 2008. So she decided we
should check out the situation on a semi periodical basis.

Today when we arrived it was
still dark and cold and groups of Palestinians who had gone through the
crossing and were waiting for rides were trying to warm themselves
around bonfires they had built. There were several hundred
Palestinians waiting around. When we heard the call for the morning
prayer from a distant mosque in Qalqilyia, about 150 men gathered
together and stood in the parking lot. A quiet and clear voice in the
crowd began to lead the prayer. They prayed together standing, bending,
kneeling, and standing again as one.

There were about 200
people waiting on line to enter the terminal on the Qalqilyia side and
the line was orderly. There were no shouts and no pushing. The
turnstile which allows the people to enter the terminal allowed
anywhere from 25 to 150 people to enter at a time before it would
close. The breaks when the turnstile was closed were short—from 30
seconds to 2 minutes. This allowed people to continually
progress in the line. There were new people coming all the time so the
amount of 200 people remained the same until about 5:30AM when there
was almost no line at all. From that time on until we left at 6:00AM
there were no more than 100 people waiting on line at any one time.

We were told by the
Palestinians coming out of the terminal that both of the metal
detecting stations were open and that 4 computer stations, where their
IDs and permits are checked, were open. This seems to
make the difference. When we were here 2 weeks ago and there was such
chaos, only one metal detecting station was open and only 2 computer

The number of people leaving the terminal after being checked was about 20 to 30 per minute.


Sha'ar Ephraim Crossing 6:20AM – 7:00AM

At this crossing there are
about 3 or 4 turnstiles which allow people to enter into the terminal.
Then there is only one metal detector through which everyone must pass.
After passing through the metal detector there are 2 more turnstiles
which lead into the main hall.


The gate
opening all the turnstiles at once would be open for just a few
seconds. About 200 people wait in one huge mass behind the turnstiles
and when the turnstiles open everyone pushes in an attempt to get in
before they close again. Once the mass enters through the turnstile
they must try to form a single line before going through the metal
detector. This is not an easy task. A voice from a speaker tells the
people to go in one at a time, to put anything that might set off the
detector on the side shelf, to put down their bags, etc. If the buzzer
goes off, the voice tells the person to step to the side so others can
continue. The voice is trying to be friendly. "Hey, guys, how come
there are so many of you today?" "Oh, right, today is Sunday." By
7:00AM the crowds waiting to push through the turnstile have thinned

One of the Palestinians
leaving the terminal complained that sometimes around 3PM or 4PM the
crowds trying to enter the terminal to return home can be 100 meters
long and not in a single line. We'll have to see if we can arrange to
come at that time.