Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)

Varda Z., Edith M. (reporting)

Dawn. Routine.

We arrived shortly before 5:00, to see how long the early morning rush lasts. The checkpoint was in full swing; the parking lot was full of all sizes of vehicles, the area near it was full of people waiting for their rides. Drivers shouted their destinations like sellers in a street market, looking for customers. The new toilets were open, a great improvement.

The workers flowed into the checkpoint building, with short pauses. Energetic young people, as usual, climbed over the barriers to get to the head of the line, to the vociferous displeasure of the people standing and waiting below them.

We went around to the exit, where both turnstiles were working, and the side gate was also open. Two men we were watching for got through in ten minutes.

At the entrance again, we saw a man being sent back. He had trouble finding a turnstile that would reverse in order to let him back into Palestinian territory. He was still standing in the border area when the gatesinfo-icon were reopened and the flow of people resumed. We didn't see what happened to him. We met a couple of EAPPI volunteers and spoke to them through the fence. One of them said she had seen about thirty people sent back that morning.

The people we chose to watch for got through in twelve minutes. The side gate was closed.

We went back to the entrance again, and talked some more with the EAPPI volunteer. We agreed to meet her again in two weeks. Aside from the people who climbed between the lines, we saw three who managed to climb over the edge of the roof. As far as we could tell, they went straight from the Palestinian parking lot to the area beyond the turnstiles, without passing through the lines under the roof at all. The line (close to 6:00) was not as packed as it had been an hour earlier.

Again the people we were watching for got out in twelve minutes.

The parking lot was almost empty, a few hundred people were still waiting around when we left at 6:20. On our way out we saw a stream of private cars coming in, evidently contractors coming to collect their workers.