Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
We arrived at 3:45 and admired the ongoing beautification of the area.
We walked down to the security barrier, and saw hundreds of people waiting for the gates to open. They waited and waited - the turnstiles opened only at 4:01. The crowd flowed into the checkpoint building. At 4:10, though the lines were still full of people waiting to get in, the turnstiles shut down for four minutes - probably because the checkpoint was full. When the flow started up again, we picked people to watch for and walked around to the exit. They got through in 10 - 12 minutes.
At 4:30 we returned to the entrance, and the gates closed for three minutes. This time the people we watched for needed 15 minutes to get through. Around 5:00 it was worse yet - the gates closed for eight minutes, and after they opened the checking process took 20 minutes. We saw young men climbing over the roof to avoid standing in line.
When there is no pressure, checking a person through only takes five minutes. When the process lengthens to four times that - or more, taking into account also the time standing in line to get into the checkpoint - it seems to us that investing in pretty paint and plantings is a bad joke. What is needed is to open up earlier, and add resources to speed up the process.