Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Irtah/Sha'ar Efraiym crossing. Dawn shift. Routine.
05:00 The gates are being opened at the exact time (even a minute earlier as per my watch). The mad race into the installation begins. The entrance itself is performed in turns according to the opening and closing of the turnstile, depending on the pressure at the entrance area near the magnometer.
The Women's gate isn't opened despite explicit promises. But one can understand why. There is not one woman near the gate, but there is an enormous pressure of men into the gap (which was already photographed by Rachel A. a few weeks ago) from which one is able to press on to the beginning of the queue. The gap necessitates dangerous climbing between the barbed wire ramparts and jumping over the heads of the men standing in the queue, all the time endangering both the climber and the people in the queue. We talk with one of the pushers who agreed to forsake his place in the queue for our sake, and to explain to us that since he was aware of the existence of the gap he passes through is (on Fridays only, being short working days) as he is being crushed standing in the regular queue, and here he is free until his jump to the head of the queue, straight to the turnstile. On regular days, when he can work till late, he arrives at the CP at 7:00 only and passes without pressure. But he has no problem regarding the exact beginning time of his job. The women, who stand to the side, draw our attention to what goes on, and ask us to find a solution. The only solution we can think of, we explain, is a new entrance installation, considering the fact that contrary to the Eyal CP (Qilqiliya) at this CP there is no guarding by the Palestinian police.
05:20 We turn to the exit from the installation into Israel. A great number of people are already outside, praying in groups or sitting and chatting. Leora asks an old acquaintance how he passed, and he says by way of the gap. When asked why he replies: What, am I a sucker? Am I old? I must prove that I can do it, and it also saves me time.
05:38 The stream of people leaving stops. And then the gates are suddenly closed, accompanied by a blurred announcement on the public address system. But the gates and the turnstiles are reopened three minutes later.
05:45 We again went to the turnstile at the entrance to the installation. There is no pressure. People walk leisurely on the entrance lane and pass through the turnstiles at a dribble, cross the area leading to the magnometer at a reasonable pace…
All the pressure was finished in half an hour, as we saw also in the two last Friday shifts. But still this is eternity for the people pushing, afraid to miss their transportation, and difficult for those who rise early in order to be first in the queue and who wait in the crowd (and not on the side, near the bonfires as those who pass through the gap).
05:55 We left.