Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Irtach, Sunday Nov. 30, dawn. A man who fainted inside is brought out on a stretcher to be transferred to a Palestinian stretcher at the gate
3:57 We arrive. We hear the crowd as we walk towards the checkpoint. A few men are standing on the cement blocks, waiting to slide down into the line. Dozens are standing around on the cement surface that is planned to be part of the new facility. No progress seems to have been made on the building in the last month.
The part of the entrance path closest to the turnstile is now covered by a kind of a roof and barbed fence, those who want to jump the line have to do so farther away.
4:02 The gates open. A man speaks to us through the fence, complaining about conditions.
4:17 We walk around to the exit side. Traffic flows well. People we noted pass through the checkpoint in 17 - 18 minutes.
4:35 The exit turnstile closed down for a minute, a crowd collected waiting to leave the building. They wait patiently.
4:40 Back to the entry side. At least ten people are standing on the cement blocks. The crowd on the pavement is no larger than before, though more people keep arriving and very few seem to leave. I guess they climb onto the cement blocks and into the line.
A man moves against the flow, back into Palestinian territory. I ask him why, and he says he forgot his passport at home.
In the sleeve before the first set of turnstiles, a number of people hold their bags above their heads or balance them on a shoulder - probably to keep them from being crushed.
5:04 Another man is sent back.
5:10 Traffic stops while the guards deal with a man who fainted in the building. The PA system calls for an ambulance. After a few minutes the flow starts again, and two men carry someone on a stretcher out to where we're standing. One of them tells me he's in charge of the shift, the other is an employee of his. They wait until two Red Crescent men get to the gate. Another employee unlocks the gate, and the patient is transfered from one stretcher to another. The Red Crescent men take him away and the gate is locked again.
5:37 We time another individual passage at 17 minutes.
I buy a small sweet roll at the kiosk. It costs 2 shekels.
5:42 The entrance is still crowded, there are still a few men standing on the wall.
Flow of traffic stops again. This time there is a PA announcement in Hebrew, “Gentlemen, we have a small problem, we'll continue working in two minutes.” A minute later they open the turnstiles.
5:50 We leave.