Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Tue 19.5.09, Afternoon
Translation: Galia S.
We arrived at Irtah checkpoint at 15:00, in the afternoon. The difference between this checkpoint, which has been privatized, and the other checkpoints we have visited is immediately apparent: a big, aired shed with many chairs, a clean pavilion with four toilets, and a large drinking fountain. Outside there is no line. A few workers rush to enter through the turnstile and stand in the short line in front of the two posts. They pass quickly to the other side.
Only at 15:45 groups of workers start coming and the line of people standing outside in the sun gets longer.
Dalia and Yehudit go to search for the man in charge of the checkpoint and as they get to the parking lot in front of the checkpoint, they see him get out of his car. He listens to them and promises to open more posts.
To our surprise, several workers stop near us and say that everything is alright now. It turns out that what they mean is that the high netted fence, set up at the passage between the Israeli checkpoint and the Palestinian one, prevents the terrible disorder that was here before, with everyone pushing in. it helps to keep an orderly line.
At 16:10 another post is opened and 10 minutes later two more and the line starts moving fast. From the moment a person gets to the head of the line, it takes him less than 10 minutes to leave.
Very few women workers. A very pretty worker, mother of four, who works in a flower nursery – "The nursery owner is like a father to me" –, begs us to forward her and the other women's request to have a separate passage for women. The situation is indeed very unpleasant. It is very crowded. The workers stand close together in line, which can make anyone uncomfortable especially a woman who happens to stand among them.
But the problem is, many claim, mainly in the morning. The lines are long and only few posts open and they, too, start late. One of the workers who works in construction in Holon says that he arrived at the checkpoint at 04:00 in the morning and only at 06:30 he left.
Recommendations: It is important to get to this checkpoint between 15:30 an 16:45 in the afternoon.
A long line drags along at the entrance when we arrive here at 16:30. Another post has just opened. Could that be because they saw us coming? The line moves fast and at 16:45 it is gone.
A Jewish driver who transports workers expresses deep anger at the situation and the humiliating attitude toward the Palestinian workers. He says that in the morning it's been terrible.