Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)

Neta Golan (Reporting). Translation: Bracha Ben-Avraham

I drove a sick child and his mother from Rambam Hospital in Haifa to Irtach Checkpoint.  I had never been to this checkpoint before and never experienced the difficult hours during crossing or the crowded conditions.  I had only read Machsom Watch reports.

13:50 – There were not many people at this time of day. A few drivers, and there was a kiosk selling cakes and snacks under a mostly empty shed.  Outside the shaded area, there was a booth selling cartons of tangerines, as well as a booth where people could purchase cellular phones. Next to the shed are four toilets, and a water faucet nearby. So far as I could tell from the signs on the doors, two stalls were for men and two for women. I opened one of the doors to the women’s toilet and saw that it was clean.   

14:00 Agricultural workers began to arrive from their work in Israel.  Many were carrying bags of citrus fruit. I accompanied several people to the turnstile and talked with a group of people who spoke Hebrew. They remembered when things were worse but still complained that despite the new electronic system, crossing in the morning still takes half an hour.  They explained that the reason for this was that not all the inspection windows were operating.  When people cross to the West Bank in the afternoon, the crossing takes less time because they are not being checked.   

The checkpoint includes a well-kept building belonging to the Land Border Authority, which is part of the Ministry of Internal Security. There was a sign on the building for the Center for Development of Israeli Palestinian Businesses.  The sign was faded and I don’t know what is happening with the businesses.  

I left at 14:30. People continued to arrive, but it was not crowded.