Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)

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Galit A., A., (photographing) guest. Nitza H., Pnina R., Orna N. Nurit P. (photographing) Reporting: Varda Z., and Devorka O., Translating: Hanna K.

Irtah/Sha'ar Ephraim Dawn shift



04:55 Near the separation fence. From afar one can discern that even before the opening of the gatesinfo-icon, a group of young men stands on the entrance roof, with the intention to jump to the head of the queue when the gates are opened. Even before one can see the enclosure one can hear the usual murmur of the people near the CP. Groups of women stand to the side. Near the fence more young men assemble. In spite of the crowding it seems that there are less people than usual on a Friday. They explained that many didn't reach the CP  as they went out to pray in Jerusalem and thos are driving through Ramallah.


The loophole which enabled entrance through the side of the enclosure to the head of the queue has been repaired. A. photographed. When we opened the small gate on the left side of the enclosure in order to advance a bit and facilitate the taking of photographs, loud shouts were heard from the tower and we were forced to retreat.


05:00 The turnstiles are being opened, the first people begin running towards the magnometer (photo). The opening of the gates is executed as usual in shifts. The leaps from the roof to the beginning of the queue are also as usual.


And the women's gate isn't opened, also as usual, on Friday in spite of the repeated promises. Later the women tell us that now the women's gate isn't opened on weekdays too.


05:15 We went to observe the departure to Israel. A considerable number of men and women have already left the installation and are now outside. Owing to the advancement of the building of the installation intended for the meeting between Israeli and Palestinian merchants, the entrance area was limited considerably and it has become crowded. The cafeteria is covered with dark cloths (Ramadan), but the smells are felt. Inside there are a few young men smoking and drinking coffee.


One cannot see the beginnings of the building of the new entrance area to the installation, which was promised and which was intended to provide a separate entrance route for women, and comfortable access conditions for the entering men.


Our visitor, Galit, speaks Arabic and we enter into conversation with a few women. The main complaint is the absence of a separate entrance for women. They tell us that at the times when one used to open the special gate, the men used to force their way and enter through it. They asked us to help them regulate from anew the opening of the special gate for women. We told them about the former attempts of Varda and Hanna B. to assist in the matter, and promised to try again.


Another complaint is about the necessity to be on the lane many hours before the opening, so as to ensure their passage on time. At 05:00 one of the women tells us that she arrives at the lane at 03:00 when her transportation to work (picking berries) is at 06:30.


Each picker woman gets 100 IS for a working day of 8 hours (7 hours on Friday) and another 20 IS for each additional working hour. In the season they work 6 days per week. All of them agree to talk but not to be photographed. One or two are prepared to be photographed on the side. A few men photograph them and us with their cellphones. When their transportation arrives they get on the busses.


06:30 We leave.

06:40 On the way back we passed near the Eyal Passage. From outside the place seems teeming with cars and people.