Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 3.3.13, Morning
The gate opened at 04:00 exactly.
Again there is a hole in the fence of the entry corridor to the installation – the old story. Organized interest groups make a hole in the corridor fences, and when they’re repaired and the metal used for the fences made thicker – they bring more sophistical tools to break through. When people can enter from the side, the congestion within the lanes becomes unbearable. Remember, in one of the previous times the fence was broken through there was a riot, people were injured and at least one man died (at the time, the Palestinians told us that two had died).
The Ecumenicals report that the women’s gate opened for exactly four minutes. Women arriving at 04:05 had to go to the main line. People outside on the Israeli side reported at 04:20 that everything was going smoothly and quickly. The Ecumenicals count (using manual counters) how many people enter the facility in half an hour. By 04:30 they’d counted 1118 people! They say that on Friday (1.3.13) the main gate didn’t open at all. No one knows why.
On the other side, the entrance to Israel, the flow of people exiting dwindled almost to nothing at approximately 05:00. And then a flow of people suddenly burst out and mobbed the revolving gate. The adjoining gate remained locked. Leora noted, correctly, that since we’ve been coming here that gate has never been opened for people coming out, even though the facility manager told us that when there’s pressure on the revolving gates, this gate is also opened. Leora waves at the security cameras, points to the locked gate – and, amazingly – it opens! Because she waved? Perhaps we sometimes actually do some good.
At 04:40, while we were still at the entry gate to the facility, we marked the time on a slip of paper we gave to a man standing next to the revolving gate. He came through at 05:15. Is that fast. And he even told us, proudly, that he went through the lane for the elderly… A man standing next to the revolving gate to Israel said he’d arrived with a young colleague for whom he’s been waiting an hour. His colleague came over to us about the same time the first man exited and said that he’d spent more than an hour inside! This was confirmed by the friend who was waiting for him outside. How could more than one thousand people enter the facility during the first half hour the gate was open, and exit only half an hour later? How many people can fit in at one time?
Another man asked us for help. He held a handwritten letter with an illegible signature and with no official stamps, written on the back of a photocopy of a document. The letter says the skin on the man’s fingers is worn; that’s the reason his fingerprints are unclear. The person reading the letter is requested to allow him to cross solely on the basis of his documents. He complains that, despite the letter, he’s detained every morning; that he went more than once to the relevant offices which gave him the letter he’s holding – can we help? We gave him the phone number of Kav LaOved’s representative, who speaks Arabic. Maybe they’ll be able to solve his problem…
We left at 05:30, since we saw that the difficult routine forced upon the Palestinians seemed to be proceeding in the usual manner.