Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Fri 6.8.10, Morning
. Irtah We arrived at 5:00AM. A suspicious object was found in the area outside the terminal on the Israeli side so the mini buses and their drivers waiting for passengers had to stand back. We were not allowed to get close to the terminal.
A robot was sent off to shoot at the abandoned parcel. There was no sound of an explosion as the bullets hit the package.
Only at 5:30AM did the gates open and the Palestinians who had been held back from exiting the terminal burst out in a run. The Palestinian side had opened at about 5AM as is usual on Friday but since people were not let out on the Israeli side there had been a big back up. They had not been told the reason for the half hour delay and you could see their irritation and stress at having to wait. I counted the number of people exiting as Micky observed the other side and spoke to people in the parking lot while they waited for rides. Micki was told that Sunday is a much more difficult day then Friday. During the time we were at the terminal (5AM to 6:48AM) about 1,620 people passed through.
There had been a long line of people waiting on the Palestinian side before the terminal opened and that line continued until 6:10AM. Unlike the situation at the Eyal Crossing, in Irtah there is no help from the Palestinian Police or appointed guards on the Palestinian side to make sure there is some semblance of order in the line. As a result there is a very difficult situation where people push and struggle to keep their place in line as the crowd tries to make their way through the turnstiles. There were a lot of complaints from the Palestinians about the crowding in and out of the terminal, the time they have to wait on line, the inefficiency and lack of man power in the terminal, and the lack of respect they feel.