Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Tue 23.3.10, Morning

Observers: Smadar, Ruthi

Translation: Galia S.

03:55 – A lot of minibuses are in the parking lot, waiting for the workers. When I was here two weeks ago, the minibuses were barred from entering the place.

04:00 – The turnstiles are open. It's cold. The announcement over the loudspeaker instructs all the men to raise their jackets when they pass. As usual, food cans, drinks, keys and shoes with nails are put aside before they pass the metal detector device. Some 100 workers enter before the turnstile is blocked. The passage looks quick and until 04:10 about 500 people, all those who were in line passed.

04:12 – Those who get to the checkpoint at 04:12 find it closed. They cannot pass and have to wait. It is not clear why the turnstiles aren't open. We check at the exit and see there that people are leaving. It seems that all those who entered earlier have already passed. At least 5 posts that check permits and other documents are manned. We have no idea why they have stopped the passage. A lot of people who arrive now are waiting.

At 04:25 the turnstiles reopen and about 100 men and women pass in each round, which takes 3 minutes and then another group passes. In front of the turnstiles there is now a new long line. A worker of the company that operates the checkpoint shouts contradictory instructions in Hebrew and Arabic. He is very blunt and unpleasant. We should have recorded him.

04:50 – Shift change!

The guard has been replaced by another one who welcomes the people by saying good morning to everybody in a pleasant voice and asks them to come forward one by one. When he stops someone whose crossing triggers a whistling sound he asks him politely to open the bag and than thanks him and says "Have a nice day".

The turnstiles are open and each time about 100 workers pass.

A lot of people keep arriving from the Palestinian direction and it takes each person who arrives 10 minutes to pass.

05:15 – The day has dawned.

05:30 – No line. Everyone who arrives passes.

There are many people in the parking lot and cars and minibuses fill up. A lot of smiles and friendly greetings accompany us.