Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 23.1.11, Morning
We decided to change our shift day from Friday to Sunday, since things have been calm the last few Fridays. This morning, when we arrived about 04:30, large numbers of laborers had already gone through the checkpoint and were waiting outside for their rides. Hundreds of others still stood waiting to enter.
Two Swedish volunteers from the international EAPPI group were on the Palestinian side. We exchanged impressions and telephone numbers. They come to the checkpoint twice a week, and we were able to help them this morning with problems they’d confronted – a Palestinian not allowed to enter Israel who requested help, and another whose exit permit specified Qalandiya and wasn’t allowed to cross.
Later we went to where people wait after coming through the checkpoint.
Although large numbers of people were coming through, things went smoothly and calmly. No one complained to us. We spoke to many people about various things connected with work permits, but no one complained about the checkpoint itself or difficulties that arose there. There was an article in Ha’aretz on Friday about the number of people coming through, their ages and various restrictions. A simple computation indicates that about 3500 people cross at Irtach between 04:00 and 06:00 Sunday morning, some of whom remain in Israel for the whole week.
Although everything seems to go smoothly and feels routine, as if there wasn’t really an urgent need for us to be there, our presence nevertheless makes the Palestinians feel better, and it’s important.