Eyal Crossing, Tue 8.9.09, Morning

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Yael F., Nurit W., Dina A. (reporting)

Guest:  Yuval, a student

Translator:  Charles K.

 So shameful it makes us despair.  This is the first time we’ve been on the dawn shift at the Eyal checkpoint where people enter Israel.We’d read the reports, we thought we knew what went on here, but we didn’t imagine how shameful it actually was. 04:00  The PA system calls all the guards to their inspection booths.We stand near the exit turnstile.

04:03  The first laborers exit.
From what we can see where we’re standing, there are 6 booths for final inspection of ID’s and all are manned.Dozens of people go through, holding bottles of water and small plastic bags.“Today’s good, it’s working well,” say the first ones who come out. 04:15  “Take pictures of the inside, look at what’s going on there, we’re treated like machines, they push us around.”Those coming through sit or lie down in the parking area and wait for their rides.

04:20  “They’ll be a war today.”  I come through every day, and every day I’m checked again, they put a lot of us together in a room and check our ID cards.  (Many people talked about the rooms in which they’re put).  We have no idea what they are and what happens inside them.

04:25  One of the people leaving says that he waited only 10 minutes inside the installation.  Suddenly people stop coming out.  We have no idea whether it’s because there’s no one inside or because aren’t being let in.

04:30  Another person exits, angry about the rooms that they’re put in.

04:35  We call Abu Shadi at the plant nursery where the laborers gather, and he tells us that the situation is terrible.  Hordes of people are crowded around and he doesn’t know what will happen.

04:40  We call DCO Qalqilya, the person on duty promises to look into it, but explains to me that if it’s crowded there’s probably a good reason; OK, they’re mad, so what?
Meanwhile, people go through in waves; a group of people exits, then nobody, then another group.

04:45  One of the supervisors comes over to us.  In reply to our question about the reason for the delay he explains that one of the turnstiles malfunctioned; a technician was called and now the line is flowing.
The exit turnstile gets stuck, re-opens a few minutes later and people continue coming out to the parking lot. 
04:50  We call Abu Shadi at the plant nursery, who also reports that there are no more problems, and in fact hundreds of people are flowing out.

04:55  The turnstile gets stuck again, and re-opens two minutes later.  It gets stuck occasionally for a few minutes during our shift.

05:00  People flood out, most of them angry, hurrying to pray.  A group gathers to pray in the parking lot, hundreds standing in worship, a very impressive sight.

05:15  One of the people reports that very many are still waiting.  Though it was worse on Sunday, today more than an hour has already gone by since he left home.

05:20  The flow of people continues.  Another group gathers near the path to pray.
One man exits angrily.  “What’s going on here, why do they cram so many people into one room, we come through here every day, it can’t go on like this.”

05:20  It started getting light; vehicles begin arrive to collect the laborers.
We decided to try and get to the plant nursery, or at least to see what’s happening there.  We went around the installation, and from the other side were able to see everything, hundreds of people in the nursery, slowly moving forward in a long line.We called the crossings officer who promised to look into it.Five minutes later the checkpoint commander appears and yells at us that we’re in a closed military area, the police are on the way and will take away our ID cards.  We didn’t get too excited, asked him not to shout at us and went back to the exit turnstile.

People continue coming through.

06:20  One of the people says that today the crossing is operating in a relatively reasonable manner because of our presence.

06:35  Abu Shadi reports that the plant nursery is empty.

06:45  We left for Tel Aviv.

People again asked us to find out about radiation in the scanner, about the rooms that people are crammed into.