Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Dawn. A reasonably quiet day.
When we arrived, at 3:55, quite a few people had already gotten though the checkpoint. We asked and they said it opened at 3:45.
By the separation barrier we saw that there was no pressure of people waiting to get into the checkpoint. We don't know if this is because they opened early, or because fewer people tried to cross, worried about unrest following Trump's declaration. No significant pressure developed all the time we were there, until after 5:00. Around 5:00 we saw one man who had climbed up to try to get to the head of the line, but there was really no need...
In every sampling we took, we found that some people got through the checkpoint in 7 to 10 minutes. However, one man didn't come out until 20 minutes after he went in, and we gave up on several others whom we were watching for. We saw several people moving back into Palestinian territory. We don't know if they were refused passage or if they had other reasons for returning.
The turnstiles opened and closed periodically, controlling the numbers allowed into the checkpoint.
New developments: The electronic sign that appeared a few months ago, welcoming people in three languages, is gone. Also the spotlights on the decorative wishing well were turned off. New palm trees are growing in cement planters, but the bicycles that used to be chained along the wall have no place any more. The electronic gates that open for military patrols (and in so doing block Palestinian access to the checkpoint) now have extra metal bars that make it very hard to see what's happening with the people waiting to get into the checkpoint.
Around 5:00 we saw a group of people standing around near the entrance to the roofed area, watching but not trying to get into the lines for the checkpoint, though there was room to get in.