'Azzun, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Irtach-Maaleh Ephraim – 05:00
The new parking lot is completely filled with cars. The new facilities are in operation. Many workers have already crossed the checkpoint and are standing in groups. Some are lying on the ground under the new shed, trying to catch up on sleep, and others are talking and drinking their morning coffee.
We went to observe the new facilities with mixed feelings. On one hand, the overcrowding and dangerous congestion that was an inseparable part of the old facilities is gone. People line up in steel corridors, and the line moves forward at a rate of about 60 people per minute. However, the new efficiency, the electric fences which surround the place and the technological solutions for people are difficult to contain. The occupation runs more efficiently.We were almost happy to see the cats crawling under the fences, disregarding the checkpoints.
All the workers spoke to us us apathetically: "It's better,” regarding the new arrangements. One said that it took him about 40 minutes, from the time he had arrived at the checkpoint, to reach the other side. Another asked for our help in obtaining a permit for a friend. We left at 06:00.
We drove through the sleeping villages of Safrin and Beit Leed. A young man stopped his car next to us and suggested that we drive along the main road, claiming that it was safer. When we assured him that we were used to driving through the villages he said that the people were OK, but that he thought that we had lost our way.
There were three soldiers standing at the entrance to Azun. One was busy with his morning prayers. They were surprised to see us enter the village but didn't say anything.