Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Irtach/Efrayim crossing, dawn
04:50 We arrived at the checkpoint. It’s already hard to park near the checkpoint at this hour.
We walked toward the lane hidden by metal and concrete walls and heard the sound of the crowd seeking to enter Israel.
Young men wait on the wall to rush from above to the head of the line as soon as the checkpoint opens.
05:03 The revolving gate opened and the quick youths did, in fact, jump ahead. There’s great congestion.
From within we hear, “one at a time,” “slowly, slowly,” and from time to time yelling at someone who didn’t pay attention to the beep when he went through the door to the inspection station.
We noticed that construction of the new lane had stopped.
05:30 We moved to the exit side; there’s great disorder.
We spoke to some people whose principal complain is about disorganization. But when you reach the Israeli side many sit comfortably, chatting, not hurrying anywhere. We understood they arrive early, just in case there’s some problem or breakdown at the crossing.
We were told that in the morning, at the entrance to the facility, on the Palestinian side, one man was caught in the crush, felt ill, and a Palestinian ambulance was called to evacuate him.
We wondered what happens when it’s raining and cold, particularly in the lane to the entrance, but also where people wait for transportation.
05:45 We returned to the facility’s eastern entrance. We had the impression more people than usual for a Friday were crossing. There’s usually no congestion at this hour. Today there was. Only at 06:15 did the line disappear and everyone who arrived entered immediately.
Between 05:54-06:00 the gates didn’t open. To our surprise people waited very patiently. What is it? A coffee break? Congestion inside the facility? We should follow up to see whether that happens every day.
06:15 The crossing is quiet, there’s no more congestion.
On our way home we had the impression that conditions for the vehicles which pick up people crossing are insufferable. That, in addition to the entire humiliating procedure prior to entry, the congestion and uncertainty about being able to get through on time which forces people to leave home early and wait a long time until it opens.