Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Irtach, Shahar and a drive through the area,
05:30 – It was raining. Many laborers were waiting for their transportation. It was quiet at the entrance to the checkpoint and everything was proceeding very slowly. There was no pressure. The parking had been covered with asphalt and it will probably open soon for the large number of vehicles in the morning. The construction of the entrance lane had also progressed quite fast. (For a moment, we became unauthorized construction supervisors). The Palestinians told us that since Thursday (after the death of a laborer at the checkpoint) the checkpoint has opened half an hour earlier, at 03:30. They claimed that there was a connection. Anyway due to the rainy weather, not many agricultural workers had come today, and some of the construction workers who had arrived were told not to come to work, so they returned home. So that was why it was so calm and quiet, of course. On the other hand, an old worker who was quite angry said to us: "It's no use you coming here, since you don't help at all (in English)." He walked away. Another laborer gave us flowers. We asked a security guard to tell the person in charge to open the gate to the laborers who wanted to return home. He started teaching us a lesson claiming that we mustn't interfere with their work. There are certain procedures and they can't open the gates just like that. This he said after having explained that "they will never give up the idea of all the land", and that was after explaining that he's for any solution etc. Who has the patience to listen at five o'clock in the morning? And meanwhile, the gate had opened and the laborers had already left when we came to check.
Stormy weather is expected in the next few days, so if anybody is planning to go to Irtah you should check if they keep opening the gate at an earlier hour. The same security guard said: "We opened at 03:40, but hardly anybody entered." We asked if they had announced the change. The answer was no.
In conclusion, an effort is being made to relieve the pressure. Maybe people begin to understand that not only does it look bad, it really is very bad.
We drove on to Jabara, ‘Anabta, Kedumim, ‘Azzun and back. An army vehicle was keeping watch at ’Azzun as usual.