Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
In order to check if the smooth flow and lack of pressure that we have noticed before dawn continues throughout the morning, we arrived on the late side, just before six a.m.
5:57 The road leading up to the checkpoint is jammed, because of minibuses that stop to collect passengers on the way in. When we finally reach the new paved parking lot, it's almost empty. Maybe a traffic policeman would help.
6:04 The turnstiles are all closed, people are waiting under the new roof. Some men have gone into the women's line, which was empty.Through the fences we can see parking lots full of cars on the Palestinian side.
6:07 The turnstiles open. The people who pass through smile and seem calm. After half a minute the flow is cut off, and two people go back the other way.
6:10 We hear shouting from the main checkpoint building.
6:12 The turnstiles open. We pick two people to watch for.
6:17 On the Israeli side: one passes through in ten minutes, the other takes 21 minutes. While we wait on the Israeli side a man speaks to Varda. He missed his ride to work and wants to go home. He points out a young man standing nearby who needs to return home quickly because his grandfather just died. He also complains about the unpleasant feeling in the checkpoint. After a few minutes Varda goes to ask the guard to let them through. A few minutes later the request is acted on. Another man spoke to me, complaining that the agricultural crossing at Reichan isn't open in the morning. It seems to me that the government that decided to put a border fence between people's houses and their fields, has an obligation to provide much more flexible access for them.
6:37 A guard comes to the exit turnstile and lets the young man and his friends back into the building.
6:42 A thin stream of people enters the checkpoint, with no waiting. Two that we choose to watch get through in 10 and 12 minutes.
6:50 A man tells us that the checkpoint opened late this morning, it was a mess. (Later, Varda phoned Ronen the checkpoint manager, and he checked the computer records. He said that 13 people passed through before 4:48.)
6:55 We leave.