Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Construction is progressing.
3:55 We arrive with a ladder (Edith's idea) in order to see what's beyond the solid metal fence. We see:
(a) access to the checkpoint has been moved, large cement blocks stand where the line used to form, and there isn't much shelter. (Later, workers will tell us there isn't any clearly defined line.)
(b) the area inside the metal fence has been cleared and leveled. There used to be a ditch.
4:00. The gates open. Passage is normal. We don't hear angry shouts as in the past, or see people climbing over the entrance.
4:08 We pick a man to observe, to check the speed of transit, and move around to the exit into Israel. The first workers have already gotten through. We ask two of them when they arrived at the checkpoint--one says ten thirty Saturday evening. Because there's no line, he needed to save his place by the gate, and didn't sleep all night. He says he only needs to do this on Sundays. The second man arrived at midnight, he didn't sleep either.
On our way we notice the progress that has been made on the construction of the commercial center.
4:16 The exit turnstile stops working, a crowd of men collects. When the turnstile starts up again, the side door is not opened to relieve the pressure. We are surprised by the polite way some of the men let a few women go through ahead of them.
4:25 The man we chose to observe passes through. It took him seventeen minutes. When the flow dwindles we return to the fence by Area C. A few people try to climb over the barrier. Near us they can't manage, on the other side of entrance they succeed in breaking into the line near the gate. At this, we hear the angry cries we're used to.
The ground between the first turnstiles and the checkpoint facility is littered with large empty tin cans (which occasionally catch in a turnstile), scraps of cardboard and other rubbish.
4:50 While we stand there, the turnstiles are opened going the other direction, and two men return to Area C. We didn't get a chance to speak to them and ask why.
At one point a young woman hurries to the magnetometer with a small girl. We return to the Israeli side to see when they get through. As of 5:40 they didn't get through.