Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
04:00 - We arrived at around 03:55. The checkpoint opened at 04:07.
The entrance area was full of people, like on Sundays. A group of women stood at the women's gate, but it didn't open.
After a phone call to the DCO, the gate opened for about 10 minutes, during which time all the women entered, and then it closed. We should mention that the men stood around and did not approach until all the women had entered. Then, they got into a line and went in one at a time through the crack which we mentioned yesterday.
Most of the picture today was the same as yesterday; lots of workers descend on the gates, trying to get in through any hole or crack and even over the gate. Pushing, sweating, and getting angry. Someone told us that during the day three men were injured and were taken to the hospital. They also said that two weeks ago a worker was killed there. More women arrived later at the women's gate, saying that they had come from the Jenin area, and asked that we get them to open the gate. Just in time, the checkpoint commander arrived and tried to explain that it was impossible to open it now because the men would attack it.
According to him, they are outside the fence, an area belonging to the civil administration and not the Dept. of Security, so it is not their responsibility. The intention is to build a passageway there of tubes, like a maze, like the entrance to the Safari, which would organize the queue into three lines. This is supposed to be built very soon.
He also said that during these hours about 5500 people go through during the week. On Sunday, more than 6000 pass and the stations are opened relative to the numbers (meaning that not all the stations are open all the time). We scheduled a meeting with him for Wednesday morning.
Unlike yesterday, a lot of people talked with us today. They repeated their complaints, which are obvious and well-known, and asked for help. They compared the standing outside to a war situation. The long hours needed just to get to work are really impossible. In order to get a good place in line, one needs to get to the checkpoint around 02:30 . People who arrive later might lose a day's work. Today, when we were about to leave at 06:20, there were still hundreds in line and more people waiting outside the checkpoint. Obviously the checkpoint does not suit the number of people coming. It was originally intended to service about 700 people/hour, but the number trying to get through in the same time is about 5500. The solution is in the infrastructure: enlarging the building and the work force serving it and the number of open hours will help. The solution cannot rely only on the good will of one commander or another.
The solution of the Palestinians: a gate open 24 hrs/day, like any border between countries. This would enormously reduce the pressure and the feeling of humiliation they have, even though this also would not solve the problem of the number of people coming in vs. the capacity of the inspection stations. Still, it sounds so much more normal: a gate open for 24 hrs/day.
06:24 - We went home.