Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Thu 4.6.09, Morning
04:00 – Crowds of people are sitting between the fences. Spotlights shine blinding beams of light from the top of the building but illuminate only a small part of the people waiting. We cannot see most of the people waiting in line.
04:15: The crowd begins to move. People stand up in order to be ready when the checkpoint opens.
04:30 – The turnstile opens and the loudspeakers announce “Good morning” in Hebrew. The turnstiles open each time for 10-15 seconds and 30-50 people enter and run in the direction of the magnometer, pass through one after the other, go through the next turnstile, and disappear into the building. Occasionally the entrance becomes crowded and we hear a soldier calling, “Get back, get back, yalla!” or: “You, you, open your purse!” at a woman who becomes confused because she did not understand whom he was talking to. The turnstile lets people in gradually and there is always a lineup of people next to the magnometer. I counted about 240 people passing through within 5 minutes.
05:30 – The line of people has gone through and people are now entering immediately as soon as they arrive.
05:40 – A man comes back and reports that there is no work, but gives no details.On the other side taxies are crowding in to pick people up and there is a lot of commotion.
At 6:00 people come out and report that it is very crowded inside. One of them claims that people are being let in quickly so that we cannot see them, but inside there is a long line and it is crowded. A young construction worker who works in Abu Ghosh complained that he was delayed in the “rooms” his contractor left without him. He said that they were ten workers, but two were delayed and missed their ride. The contractor says that losing a work hour for 8 separate workers is equal to a workday of one worker and that it is not worthwhile for him to wait. Tziona called the contractor and told him with whom to lodge a complaint and things would then be better for him and he would not lose workers and the workers would not miss a workday.
We left at 06:40.