Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Mon 2.4.12, Morning
The checkpoint operates as it always does – barring the way of people going to work, making it impossible for them to plan anything, forcing them to arrive very early and then, when they’ve succeeded in crossing, to wait until it’s time for their ride to work.
04:18 The checkpoint was operating when we arrived; people who’d crossed were already waiting outside. Cars wait in the parking lot.
At the entrance – 30-70 people enter each time the revolving gates open. They open every two minutes, after those who’ve already entered have gone through the magnemometer. After 150 people have entered there’s a break of a few minutes. During most of the time we stood at the entrance, the revolving gates opened every two minutes and many people came through each time. They reach the fence where there’s a table standing in a gap, on which they put items that don’t go through the magnemometer, then they go through and on the other side collect what they left on the table. Then they disappear into the depths of the checkpoint, usually for 15 minutes to half an hour, and we have no way of knowing what transpires there. But they usually emerge angry at how long they had to spend inside and how they were treated there.
04:46 The revolving gate at the exit is stuck and nothing can be done about it. It’s not clear whether it’s a malfunction or intentional. The number of people waiting increases. After about 2 minutes it reopens, gets stuck again, reopens again. Now people exit at a slower rate, but begin coming through faster again at 04:55. We counted 150 people coming through in 10 minutes. Many of those exiti
Hundreds of people are crowded on line to enter; there’s a hole in the fence next to the revolving gates. Many people come from the side through the hole to cut into the line. There’s an uproar, anger, but the line quickly diminished and by about 04:30 almost no one came through the intended line; all of them took the shortcut from the side, creating a line there to enter through the hole in the fence. The entire line isn’t so long now – perhaps 150-200 people flowing continually into the checkpoint and newcomers continuing to arrive so that the length of the line at the hole remains constant. Toward 06:00 it began to shorten. A man waiting, not on line, said he arrives too early, because the taxi from his village – Yabed,near Jenin – leaves early, so he waits to cross until the congestion diminishes, because he doesn’t have to be on the other side before 06:00. Most appear desirous to cross as early as possible, which is the reason for the congestion, but they also wind up waiting on the other side until it’s time for them to continue to their jobs.
04:43 At the exit – there is a continuous stream of people coming out. Women we saw at the entrance came through in 8 minutes; it took the men 20 minutes.
ng stop to pray after coming through the final revolving gate. Masses of people were praying in the plaza when we passed through at 05:08 – a very impressive sight.
05:10 We returned to the entrance – many people are still coming through. It’s strange that people seem to come out at a slower rate than they enter, but it’s probably an illusion, because, after all, everyone exits. The line outside is as long as before; most people come through the hole in the fence. They don’t even try to use the intended passage between the fences.
05:25 The line begins getting shorter; when we returned again at 06:00, before leaving, it was very short. The main problem is that people can’t be sure they’ll cross in time to get to work on time so they arrive very early and then have to and sit waiting for another hour in the plaza before they have to catch their rides.
At 06:00 there were still a few hundred people waiting in the exit plaza after having come through. The parking lot was packed with cars; more and more continued to arrive.