Eyal, Sun 5.4.09, Morning
5:15 – It is still dark outside. 3000-4000 workers are crowded behind the fences on the other side of the turnstile that stops occasionally by remote control or there is a halt in the crossing, but the workers continue to crowd in. When the turnstile stops there is tension and there are shouts of anger among the workers. An army jeep is parked next to the fence “keeping order”. At this stage two more soldiers arrive, approach the turnstile, and wordlessly throw three gas grenades into the crowd next to the turnstile. People cannot escape the smoke because there are too many people in line. The gas is very strong and we felt a burning in our throats and eyes from where we were standing 50 meters away and hurried to get further away. After the gas dissipated and the people began to get back in line the unrest in the crowd grew because everyone was pushed even more.
The crossing opens at 4:45 and the first people are already there at 2:30. One of the workers told us that he sat in back of the inspection booth huddled in a blanket. After he was injured from the pushing crowd yesterday (and showed us a huge bandage on his stomach) he decided to arrive early in order to be first in line. He arrived in line at 2:30 at night and was among the first to go through. At 4:30 he was outside. He sat on the side and waited to be picked up with the rest of his group. At 6:45 he was still waiting.
Two people stand on the other side of the fence in neither the exit nor the entrance. When I asked them what they were doing I was told that they did not receive permission to go through because their fingerprints did not match. One’s work permit was taken away and the other was rejected for the day.
I was told that every day there is a group of 10-15 people who are rejected because of this claim, which has no basis. The people complained that the [waiting time] is long because four inspection rooms are operating for more than 3000 people, and there are four other rooms that are not in use. The people also complained about the attitude of the soldiers who check them with their feet on the table and blow smoke in their face during the inspection.
Partial statistics regarding the rate of entry:
5:20 – Passage halted for 7 minutes
5:27: 163 people entered in 4 minutes.
5:31: Passage halted for another 4 minutes.
5:24: 120 people entered in 5 minutes.
5:40 The turnstile stopped turning periodically, gas grenades, the crowd fled.
6:00 People line up again. Passage halts for 7 minutes.
6:07: 130 enter in 10 minutes.
6:17: Passage halts for 7 minutes.
6:24: 89 people entered in 6 minutes.
Summary: between 5:20 and 6:30 about 500 people entered. At that rate how long will it take to let 3000 people through? 6 hours.Brief statistics at the exit (Before people exit people stop to read an announcement saying that every worker has to return via the same crossing from which he exited, otherwise his permit will be revoked.
6:10 – 6:15 – 100 people came out.
6:15-6:25: 100 people came out.
6:25-6:35: 100 people came outA total of 300 people came out in 25 minutes.
Assuming that this rate is constant, it will take more than 4 hours to let everyone out.