Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
4:55 Irtah/Sha'ar Efraiym -the parking lot is blocked. Parking is along the access road. It is unclear why.
By the separation barrier with the metal fencing,
1. the entry zone is perfectly clean,
2. already, before the gates open, young men can be seen climbing over the high barbed wire fence and through the concertina wire in order to jump down to the start of the crowded line. We hear roars of protest.
3. Peeking through a gap in the metal fence, we can see good progress on the foundations for the new access building.
4. On the far side of the building site, the metal fence is bent so people can get in, and from there it's comparatively easy to climb up into the waiting line. Thus people push into the start of the line, near the turnstiles, from both sides.
5:04The checkpoint opens. Already with the first group of laborers, two of the three turnstiles get stuck, and in freeing them squashed tin cans and flattened cartons are swept into the entry zone, which becomes an obstacle course. The same thing happens with the next group, after that traffic flows. It seems that the people who arrived earliest brought things to sit on while they waited for the gates to open, which they abandoned in the rush to the turnstiles... the pressure and the outcry are great.
We notice that women arrive at the turnstiles in groups. Do they organize this on purpose to avoid unnecessary contact with the men?
The voice on the loudspeaker is more human today, less barking.
5:20We move around to the other side of the facility, the exit into Israel. On the way we are stopped by some people from Tulkarm who speak Hebrew, and ask for us to include them in beach outings (details were forwarded.) Also people complained about the hellish conditions outside. There were no complaints about procedures within the facility - evidently efforts are made to ease things, or else the situation outside is so awful that everything else seems fine in comparison.
The stream of people exiting is constant, at a reasonable rate.
A man says he was hit on his chest while in line outside. He doesn't feel well and wants to go home to see a doctor. We go to the offices and ask the guard to open the door for him. He cooperates, and we hear on his radio his supervisor says she's opening right away. When we come back the man is gone - they let him through.
5:50On our way back to check the pressure at the entrance, we meet the man who fainted in the entry zone (reported by Dvorka and Nurit P., on Sunday the 12th.) The man says he was hospitalized for a week. His health insurance doesn't cover events within the checkpoint, so he had to pay for it himself, but he says he feels fine now.
There is no line and no pressure at the entry. Whoever arrives gets in immediately, whoever wants to go back does (we saw two people going back.) Everything is calm.
Questions posed to the facility's manager:
1. When will the new entrance be finished? Reply: We aim for the end of December, bedinning of January. No rain-shelter will be provided before that time.
2. Why is the parking lot blocked? The parking lot is being upgraded (tarred), and is only temporarily closed. No set date for end of work is available at this time.