Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Wed 1.7.09, Morning

Hannah P., Michal B. (reporting) Akiva Or – Guest, Translation: Bracha

04:10 – As usual there are hundreds of people crowded together on the other side of the fence. The end of the line cannot be seen. 

04:31 – The gate opens and inspection begins.  A lot of people are carrying portable coolers, but we don’t see any bottles of water.  The news that was broadcast yesterday that people can now bring in unlimited quantities of water (?) has not made an impression on people yet.  Today no one was sent back because of food limitations.  5 people went back, one with a permit that had been revoked, and who did not want to tell us exactly what happened, and others because of problems with palm identification.

05:00 – The congestion at the entrance has decreased and whoever comes goes through immediately.  We went to the exit side of the checkpoint and people reported that there was a lot of overcrowding inside the rooms. 

Someone said that the day before yesterday 40 people had been crammed into a room that is designed to hold ten people.  An ambulance that was called from the Israeli side was not allowed to enter the area of the facility. A Palestinian ambulance evacuated the patient but they needed to bring him back through the turnstile.  We imagined how it was possible to bring someone through a turnstile if they are lying down and unconscious, since the turnstile is barely large enough for one person to get through standing up!.

05:45 – Workers asked the guard to open the public toilets.  The guard answered that he did not have the key.  When we asked him he said they were open but we insisted they were not  He opened them within a minute! Workers told us that passage through the checkpoint is now faster and easier.  One of the workers was from the area of Barta’a.  This is near the Reihan checkpoint but they cannot get through that checkpoint at Reihan at 2:00 AM in order to get through the Irtah crossing.  They have to travel an additional hour to work in the area of Hadera.  He asked if we could intervene in the matter of transportation to work.  They get stuck in the area of Harish for hours because they have no  way of getting back to Reihan to return to the Palestinian Authority through that checkpoint.  Their employer does not see to this.    

Workers asked again and again for more than one inspection window to be opened in the afternoon.  They explained that the line is so long that it extends into the parking lot and they have to stand in the hot sun at 6:00 in the evening after a hard day’s work that begins in the small hours of the morning, which is very frustrating.

The children who sell coffee showed Akiva that two of the gatesinfo-icon in the area of the facility that separate between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are open and people can walk right through, but no worker or child has taken advantage of this  and attempted to walk through without being checked.  Akiva photographed the open gates and notified the army of the negligence.  See Akiva’s report about this.  The army took their time notifying the commander when they were notified about it..

06:45 – It is a little crowded next to the turnstiles in the entrance to the facility.  People are waiting for a few minutes and then go in.

06:50 – We left the facility.