Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)

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Karin Linder (reporting), Nur Bar-On (photography), Maya BH (translation)

03:50 - 04:45  Irtach CP
As we approached the CP, we saw the first people emerging towards the road, heading for the intersection.  On the paved parking area several white cabs await them.  We advanced towards the entrance, and observed the laborers crossing the yard between the open turnstiles and the magnometer unhurriedly.  Here and there a woman could be observed in the queue meant for women.
The checking area has been rennovated and washed and  reopened in February. Its description follows;
the entrance is via 4 lines, one for women, 3 for men.  They are shaped like the letter N, and side-lined with metal pipes, waist high for the men, shoulder high for the women. There is a roof above. This arrangement forces the passers into a slalom path, apparently to slow them down.
At the end of each path is a turnstile leading to a small yard from where the laborers proceed to the checking area.  In the past we have observed the turnstile closing down every few minutes so that the number of laborers in the yard is no more than about 30.  Nowadays the turnstiles are open continuously and the laborers reach it one by one.  We are not sure what impedes them, but perhaps those metal pipes that take up most of the width of the paths, leaving just a narrow passage where the laborers must line up in single file, they cannot walk side by side.  The yard is surrounded with layer upon layer of fencing.
On the yard's other side, next to the entrance to the checking area, there is a metal detector through which the people enter.  Unlike other CPs inside the West Bank, here the magnometer is inside a building, out of sight for Israeli citizens.  The laborers report that the check is based on biometric information they have to give -- the index finger.  They say there are 6 stands inside, so when all are open, 6 people can pass at a time.  According to their reports, till 04:30-05:00 all are open, and passage is rapid, but later only 2-3 stands are open, and passage is slow so they prefer to arrive early and then have breakfast and coffee in the parking lot, rather than risk missing their transport to their workplace.  There are no busses from Irtach (in contrast to the neighboring Eyal CP), so they depend on that transport..
At the exit there is a single turnstile; one can see the checkpoint stands by peeping through it.  Above the stands is a kind of platform on which armed guards can occasionally be seen walking.
Next to the parking lot is a covered waiting area that will be useful in  winter;.  In the area there are benches and 2 toilet stalls.  When we left the lot, the area beside it and the road, were full of white vehicles and laborers seeking their transportation.  Many ride as far as Netanya and there disperse to their destinations.

05:00 - 05:35  Eyal CP  


Eyal CP handles many more people that Irtach (numbers are hard to come by, but perhaps 2-3 times as many), possibly because there is a bus stop there which serves several bus lines to various places in central Israel.
When we arrive, about an hour after the CP opened, the large parking lot is very crowded.
The entrance path is windy.  At first up to 3 people can walk side by side, but then the path winds towards one turnstile and then another, and they enter a roofed area where it narrows down, proceeding in an N slalom.  Two security people in blue vests stand there to ensure nobody sidesteps the second turnstile directly into the checking area.  We estimate the length of all this to be 150 meters.  We timed passage at half- an- hour.