Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
04:00 By the Separation Barrier. The gates open on time. A few young men run towards the building, most just walk briskly. By 04:05 the first few are already outside, in Israel.
Going around the building we notice that until around 05:00 there's no pressure. As usual, the turnstiles open sequentially, but no long lines build up of people waiting to pass through the checkpoint. People get through in five to eight minutes.
However, two people we were following didn't come out even after twenty minutes. Were they held up? Turned back? We don't know.
At one point, when we were near the Separation Barrier, we saw two people heading back. We weren't there in time to speak to the first one, but the second one told us his fingerprint was rejected. He had this problem the day before and went to the Liaison & Coordination Administration, where they said everything was in order, but in practice, it still isn't. He needs to go back to the Liaison & Coordination Administration. How many days' work will he miss because of this?
Around 05:00 the lines get more crowded. We again see people climbing over the barriers between the lines, though not as many as we often see on Sunday mornings. It now takes 10-14 minutes to get through the checkpoint.
On our way back to the car around 05:30, a man spoke to us. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that he lives in an Arab village in Israel. He spoke in English, thinking we were from some international group, and was amazed to hear we were local. It turned out that he speaks Hebrew, but prefers to use English. He comes to the checkpoint infrequently, is horrified by the very existence of a barrier, and hopes for a time with no borders or barriers. He probably hoped to speak to foreigners about the injustice of the occupation, hoping for international exposure. We told him we know about it, that's why we come to the checkpoint and referred him to the MachsomWatch website.