Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 2.9.12, Morning

Leora Shamir, Annelien Kisch (reporting)
It is now clear for which purpose the metal gateway-scaffolding and the two small “sheds” have been erected at the side of the terminal just a few meters before the “border”-fence: a sign says: “ for vehicles for the Palestinian Authority” and on the doors “entrance only for inspectors”. We find a pair of discarded number-plates on our path and wonder if that is the way these plates should be handled.
04:00    The turnstiles open punctual on time.  There is a separate gate being opened for those women that are present at the start, but it is closed afterwards.   A Palestinian seems to be responsible for taking care of opening this gate before he starts his job in Israel. There are 2 “Ecumenicals” this morning and we will cooperate like we do mostly: they will give a note to a Palestinian with the time of entrance which we will gather at his exit. There seem less laborers waiting and things run rather smoothly. There is less pressure and no one seems to be in the usual hurry.
04:15     We go to the side where the laborers exit.  There is a regular stream of people coming out of the terminal (around 35 per min). We count 8 lanes open. From where we are standing it looks to us the staff-member at the last booth is laughing and chatting friendly with the Palestinians that pass him.  The atmosphere is better, no tension, more smiles.(the routine of the occupation….)    Our impression of the smooth proceedings is confirmed: three different timings show that it takes no more than a quarter of an hour for a person to pass the different “hurdles” in the terminal (4.15 o’clock till 4.28;  4.31 - 4.40;  4.32-4.47).  We try to find out why this morning there are so much less people. The most likely suggestion seems to be that there is much less agricultural work. The laborers are (eagerly, I am sure!) waiting for the season of fruit-picking and to renew their jobs.
On the way out we meet  A. S. G.  who askes us to say “thank you” to  TAMI, who helped him to get a new permit (tasrich) after more than a month not being able to work in Israel.
Outside there is a very large crowd, 3-4 rows deep, of laborers praying. We’ve never seen that many before. Looks like  the Palestinian population is becoming more religious, just like the Jewish population.
06:00    We leave.