Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
Dawn. An easy day.
3:45 The gates opened on time, and within 3-4 minutes the first people got through the checkpoint. One of them pointed out to us that only one of the two turnstiles at the exit was working. Varda went to report this to a guard, and the stuck turnstile was immediately freed up.
4:00 We picked people to watch for. Two of them got through in five minutes, but we didn't see the third even after twenty minutes. Several elderly men complained to us about a new policy: According to signs posted at the entrance, beginning soon elderly people, who don't need special permits to enter Israel, will only be permitted to use the checkpoint after 8:00. In the past we had heard of such a limitation until 7:00, which also irked the men who need to come into Israel to earn a living. At that time the checkpoint manager explained that the limitation was intended to reduce rush hour pressure. Maybe they could limit passage of particular groups, like the elderly, during peak periods, but let everyone through early as well as later. Our experience indicates that there isn't much pressure between 3:45 and 4:45. We will try to discuss this with the responsible authorities...
4:35 Three people we picked all got through in 7 - 8 minutes. One turnstile got stuck again, Varda reported it again, it reopened.
4:50 In the building where the lines wait, on the far side of the separation barrier, we could vaguely make out a figure of someone standing, evidently using a large movie camera. We wonder who. Two people we picked got through in a quarter of an hour, we didn't see the third one at all.
5:25 There was still no pressure at the entrance - everyone walked straight in as soon as he arrived.