Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Tammar H. (reporting), Edith M. (translating)
We arrived a few minutes before 4:00, and the checkpoint opened promptly at 4:00. As usual, we heard noise from the crowd as we approached. When we came closer we saw a larger crowd than two weeks ago. There was shoving in the tunnel leading to the gates. After a few minutes the pressure eased, but it returned around 5:30.
The first workers passed through the checkpoint in just 5 minutes from when it opened. Later we measured times and estimated that it took about 15 minutes to pass through.
The women's gate was closed, and women again had to go through unimaginable crowding. Some women stood aside and waited, others passed through with the men.
One young man showed us his shirt was torn and his hand was scratched, he said from the crowding.
Out of 12 positions in the checkpoint, only 5 were manned, which increased the pressure in the tunnel since large numbers of people couldn't enter the checkpoint at a time.
I phoned the manager of the checkpoint, waking him up, and he promised to check why only 5 positions were active. He didn't get back to me and I suspect that he didn't check. It is unacceptable that on Sunday, the busiest day of the week, only 5 lanes are open!
Someone told us that at Qalqiliya (Eyal Checkpoint) Palestinian police maintain order. Qalqiliya is in Area A, and Irtah is in Area C, where the Palestinian Authority and its police don't have control. Someone needs to maintain order. We can't accept that women suffer from pushing and harassment, men are injured, and we were told that two weeks ago someone suffocated.