Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Comfortable (almost) routine
From the time we arrived, at about 3:50, until we left, we didn't see the entrance turnstiles shut down at all. Everyone who arrived walked straight through. When we parked, the first to get through the checkpoint were already coming out into the parking lot.
Three people we chose to observe passed through in 6 minutes (a record), eight and ten minutes.
Improvements to the area around the entrance continue: on our way to the fence we passed chemical toilets and benches, evidently for the use of people who transfer Israeli cars to the Palestine Authority. We didn't see that procedure in operation as early as we were there.
On the Israeli side: there are new toilets next to the roofed prayer area. However, the chemical toilets that used to be near the exit from the main building are gone--moved to the other side? Before we have time to consider if this is desirable, a man approaches us and complains that it's a hardship. He tells about an older man with stomach trouble who didn't manage to get to the new location, and soiled his pants. He wants toilets also at the old location.
The trading center seems to be completed. I tried unsuccessfully to phone, later in the day, to find out if it's open and how it works. No one answered.
The traffic flow at the exit is fast. Some pressure develops at the single turnstile, and for a minute they opened the gate next to it. We see a man carrying a large sack, we've never before seen anyone allowed to carry through so much.
Next time we plan to arrive later, and see if the crossing is more crowded later.
4:35 We leave.