Eyal Crossing, Sun 7.3.10, Morning
4:07 - We arrived at the checkpoint before anyone came through.
4;10 - The first people came through, smiling, energetic and greeted us with a blessing for peace, saying "Today going through is fun!". Altogether, 7 people went through during this hour. Very quickly, this encouraging feeling dissipated and was premature; up until our departure, at 7, the people didn't stop complaining. Expressions of anger about the slow pace, the crowding and the waiting time were very strong.
The first day in the week and there were several workers with permits from the western side of the "green line". You could identify them by their relatively large hand baggage (is this what the government press office and ministry of the Diaspora meant when they compared the checkpoints to the airport?).
David, from EAPPI, who was observing the other side of the checkpoint, said that the number of people waiting to go through was about 5000; a resident of Qalqilya who arrived at the checkpoint at 4 and exited at 5:30 described the line which stretched out for about a kilometer. A woman who came out a little later said that the line was "full of people from here to Kfar Saba."
We counted how many people went through in 5 minutes. Between 5:05-5:10, 80 people passed through. Between 5:30-5:35, 120 people. These 5 minutes were apparently the height of speed. Between 6:16-6:20, 110 people. In front of the exit gate one could see 6 counters operating so that the bottleneck was within "sleeves" and rooms. One person of them told us that every time 8 people are allowed into the room and no one is exempt. The "results" of the inspections we could see by the belts removed and held in the men's hands, which they replace as they leave the checkpoint.
We were asked for help in removing the "forbidden" label from 2 people. We turned to Silvia for help.
Again, a man who left the checkpoint a few minutes before 6, reported that he had arrived there at 4; another man who lived in the Jenin area left at 3 AM, and exited the checkpoint at 6:05. He told us that, a few days previously, he received a blow in the chest because of the shoving at the checkpoint and needed to take off a few days from work, which of course was taken off his salary. According to him, 2 weeks ago a man died at Irtach because of the crowding (does anyone know anything about this?). Another man who lives about 200 meters from the checkpoint got there at 4 and exited at 6:45. He said that "on Sunday there is always chaos."
We left at 7, leaving behind us a long line of the builders of the land, the pickers of fruit and the refuse cleaners (yes, even a garbage truck from the town of Ra'anana arrived at the checkpoint to pick up workers). On our way to the car, we listened to the complaint of a man who had 2 bottles of olive oil confiscated at the checkpoint. He suspects that the inspectors took them for their personal use.
Even though we returned from our shift to our warm beds, we weren't able to warm up from the bone-biting cold at the checkpoint.