Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 28.11.10, Morning
04:05 The checkpoint opens five minutes late. The Palestinian laborers are a densely crowded mass, and when the revolving gate buzzes they push and are pushed forward toward the metal detector and the yelling guard. About 25-30 enter with each “beat,” and sometimes as many as 60-70.
By 04:15 120 women and 410 men have gone through. We now see the first who entered emerging from the other side of the checkpoint on their way to their rides.
04:20 A young man in a red sweatshirt enters. I move to the exit to see how long it takes him to emerge. 04:40 He passes me – “Boker tov” “Sabah alhir.”
From here you can see that 7 of the 14 inspection stations are manned.
05:00 By now 1473 men and 133 women have crossed. (The dedicated EAPPI people – we are amazed by their commitment).
At this point something goes wrong, and it’s clear that the reasonable rate at which people crossed is no longer maintained: in the next half hour, between 05:00 and 05:30, only 590 people cross. There’s a long wait between one entering group and the next. 10 minutes; 14 minutes; 8 minutes – and then 20 minutes during which crossing is uninterrupted.
05:25 We hear loud shouts from inside the building – the crowd yells, whistles, cries out – we see about 200 people within and it isn’t clear what the problem is. Meanwhile, here at the entrance to the checkpoint the revolving gate doesn’t open. Confusion in rampant! They wait.
People tell us they’re missing their rides. We called the humanitarian office – no reply.
06:20 People returning! They tell us they did miss their rides! Someone with a jar of olives was also turned back – told he couldn’t cross with them.
06:40 The gate closes again for many minutes.
06:45 We forgot to note exactly when the feeling of nighttime and cold and distress and congestion was replaced by a deep breath: What luck – the sun has risen. Now it’s actually morning, a lovely morning, the laborers have crossed; groups of women accompanied by a representative of the Red Cross are preparing to cross to the bus that will take them to visit their imprisoned relatives. .”