Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Fri 11.10.13, Morning
05.00 The gate opens.
05.07 On our way to the separation fence we already see the first of the passersby. At the passage to the fence is an army vehicle with the doors open so that the road is blocked. 4 soldiers get out of the car as we approach and refuse to let us pass. Forbidden! Security orders! While Michal and Liora try to explain to them that we are there every week and that nothing has happened to us, Annelien and after her, I find a break and slide through to the fence. The other two join us. And the soldiers behind us. Forbidden. Don’t you understand that we are protecting you? An argument ensues which develops into the usual argument amongst the deaf about our right to the whole of Israel, first of all between the soldiers and myself and then with Liora. They phone for backup and in the meantime the others go to the fence to see what is happening there. As always a large group is crowding, amongst them many women and all watch the spectacle with great enjoyment. We manage to ask again why the woman’s gate is not opened on Fridays. And people push into the queue which is crowded and suffocating near to the gates.
The time has come that we do something over the head of the civil administration about the Irtah terminal. To save money the gate is only opened at 05.00 and the woman’s gate is not opened at all which causes harm to the quality of life which is left for those Palestinians who have to pass through this checkpoint.
05.18 We choose some men in the line who are already in the terminal so as to check the time of their exit and while we are preparing to turn toward the turnstile at the entrance to Israel – another army vehicle arrives and an army personage descends in full regalia. As we were already on our way out he only managed to throw a few words at us.
5.20 At the side of the entrance to Israel. The exit is swift and quick. As we count 60 people exit in one minute. Annelien counts 6 turnstiles which are open and the people coming out do not complain.
05.30 The stream of people decreases. Michal counts only 3 turnstiles which are now open. Those coming out are somber and cursing. A shout arises from inside. They tell us that the windows were closed and people sent to other lines. The crowding inside is very bad. People are left in the checking rooms, 15 people to a room, for long moments (the man who spoke to us said for 20 minutes), not knowing when they would be freed. They say that this time the crossing took nearly an hour. Can it be so?
The checkpoint is nearly empty. A man we meet say that there is no queue. Everything is calm. A new area of the terminal has been opened which had been in the process of being built before. Annelien goes to the turnstiles which open in both directions. We enter, go through the posts where IDs are returned and the doors of the checking rooms. Then we hear an authoritative shout from one of the posts asking to know what we were doing there. A guard appears on the bridge above and explains to us that we have no right to enter the terminal. We thanked him and left. The Eyal checkpoint was empty when we arrived while Irtah was crowded and boiling. What are the reasons?
6.45 We left.