Eyal Crossing, Sun 23.5.10, Morning
We arrived at 05:00 today. The Ecumenical Accompaniment Group that stands on the Palestinian side told us that about 2,000 workers had already passed into the terminal on their side and that the terminal had opened on time at 04:00. There had been a very long line and there still was. The long line continued until about 06:10. By 06:10 4,000 people had passed into the terminal from the Palestinian side.
The average number of people exiting the terminal on the Israeli side per minute was 25. At 06:10 about 3,700 people had passed through meaning that there were at least 300 still in the terminal (not counting the people who continued to enter from the Palestinian side after the Ecumenical Group stopped counting at 06:10). The Ecumenical Group had tried to enter through the terminal to meet us on the Israeli side but they were not allowed entrance. The time it takes from being the last one on line until passing through the terminal on the Israeli side took from an hour and twenty minutes until two hours. This is not including the time it took the person from his home, which could have been from fifteen minutes to over an hour away. It also doesn't include the waiting in the parking lot for their ride and the ride itself to their place of work.
There were many complaints of how long it took waiting on line and being checked. One worker told us that it was all very nice that they now had bathrooms, some shelters against the rain, and the beginning of a lovely garden all outside the Israeli side of the terminal. However, the crucial element, which has not changed is how long the waiting and checking takes morning and night, day after day after day.
We were told that worker permits are now valid for 6 months and that permits for businessmen are for one month only. This will have to be checked.
Several men complained that last week, I believe on Friday May 21, 2010, Palestinians, who had tried to organize the line inside the terminal were stopped by the guards. Their IDs and permits were taken away and not returned until 08:00 when it was too late to go to work. The line inside the terminal is evidently a source of trouble and arguing among the Palestinians and the guards had not taken charge. However, they did not want the Palestinians to interfere.
Several men were turned back today because their fingerprints did not match what was in the computer. This often happens to laborers who work with their hands. The daily scratches and friction change the print. When a mismatch occurs the worker must wait for the DCO to open at 08:00 to have a new fingerprint check. This means that it will then be too late to go to work. Another day where a person got up at 02:00, traveled far to the checkpoint, and waited for up till 2 hours on line would not have any money to bring home to his family.
We left Eyal at 06:40.