Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jubara (Kafriat), Tue 9.2.10, Afternoon
We started the shift from the Northside heading to Irtah but as we usually start from the South, we got lost and drove further north to Shueika. We tried to cross the separation barrier at the Shueika gate on the road leading back to Tulkarem but it was closed. We drove to the one house of Shueika that remained on this side of the barrier, separated from the village, and asked the family there what times the gate opens. They said it opens for a few minutes at 07:00, 14:00 and 16:00 but they don’t think we will be allowed to use it as it is mostly used by this one family and with a special permit.
We tried the checkpoint at Nizanei Oz but we were not allowed to use this one either so we drove back to find the usual way to Irtah.
We arrived at the checkpoint at 16:00. First, we passed by the cargo area which was quiet and about to close. Then we drove to the back of the pedestrian checkpoint and saw a trickle of people coming out and no one waiting to come in.
The front was very crowded. The carousel was opening only for a few seconds allowing a small number of people in and closing again so it was a slow process and as more and more people were arriving it got even more crowded. Some people gave up and were sitting on the side saying they prefer to wait till after five instead of negotiating the entrance. The passage leading to the entrance was full almost to the point where it reaches the parking. It was not possible to count the people. We spoke to one of the guards but he refused to call the CP manager and said he will pass our message to speed up the process.
We asked for the key to get into the village but were refused with no explanation. We tried to explain that we often use the gate and have permission to do so but this didn’t help so we continued to Tulkarem.
The checkpoint seemed deserted although there may have been soldiers on the tower. A few cars drove in and out without inspection.