Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
No unusual events, but terrible traffic jams.
4:45 When we arrive, a traffic jam blocks the entrance to the parking lot. Divers honk in anger. While we are still waiting to park, an old acquaintance comes up to the car. He says that the checkpoint is working well, people pass through smoothly. When we get there we see that hundreds if not thousands of people have already gotten through.
4:55 By the entrance to the checkpoint, the turnstiles are closed. Though the women's line is full of men, when a woman arrives they let her by, to the head of the line. After a minute or two, five men come out of the building on their way back into the territories. When we ask what happened, one of them answers "No permit." It isn't clear if their permits expired, or got confiscated.
5:01 - 5:03 The turnstiles open. In two minutes, hundreds of people enter the building. The turnstiles close again.
The next time the turnstiles open, we pick some people to watch for, and move around to the exit.
5:10 On our way to the exit we see a large sign about the opening of the trade center, but there is no evidence that it has actually opened.
Two men get through the checks in 12 and 15 minutes. Someone asks why we don't observe inside the building, he says it's a mess there. What can we say? It looks like they are putting up a fence so that we won't even get close enough to guess how many checking stations are working.
5:25 We go back to the entrance. On the way someone asks us to pass on a message about the toilets. There are not nearly enough for the masses of people who use the checkpoint. In spite of promises, there's still only one unit with two stalls.
Again we picked people to watch for. A woman got through in 7 minutes, a man in 12.
Several people were waiting at the exit, trying to get back into the checkpoint. On our way out we stopped to tell the guard about them, since they are surely tired. The haughty and rude guard brushed us off, as if he wondered why anyone cares about them.
4:45 We set out for Hable.
We got stuck in a traffic jam. After not moving for half an hour, we gave up and turned around, only to get stuck in more jams on our way home.