Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Varda Z. (reporting), Edith M. (translation)
4:25 We arrived late, and found the parking lot full of vehicles lined up neatly, and a lot of people standing around them. One man seated in a car called to us and complained that today was terrible. When we asked for details he said that it's always terrible, but Sundays are a little better. When we got to the fence where we can see people entering the checkpoint, the gates were closed. A number of men squatted on top of the walls between the lines, under the roof, and waited for the turnstiles to open, at which point they jumped down to be first in line. There was quite a crowd. This time the turnstiles opened for a comparatively long time, five or six minutes, and hundreds of people flowed into the checkpoint. We chose two to follow and observe their progress.
4:35 On the Israeli side, both turnstiles were working, and the side gate was also open. People came out in a steady flow. The people we were observing took 10 and 12 minutes to get through.
A man approached us and said the mess is on the other side, why were we watching the exit? We should report on it, someone should do something. We've heard it all before. He's right, but it doesn't look like anything is likely to change.
On our way back to the entrance a new guard stopped us, and wouldn't let us approach the fence until he checked by walkie-talkie and phone, and got permission to let us through. He was tough but polite.
We chose more people to observe, and they all got through in about 12 minutes.
We checked the timing of the entrance turnstiles. They varied, but between 5:05 and 5:25 they closed several times for three to five minutes, and opened for similar time periods.
A heart-wrenching sight was the people curled up on the pavement, heads on their packs or on the curb, sleeping during the interval between getting through the checkpoint and catching their rides to work.