Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)

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Edith M. (translation), Varda Z. (reporting)

4:30 When we arrived, the parking lot was already crowded. We noticed two windows, lit up at the end of the new roofed area. They turned out to be a new, large kiosk selling food and drinks. At the entrance to the facility there's no crowding, everything flows. We pick two men to watch for.

4:40 On our way to the exit, we see that the old kiosk is closed, and that most of the metal fence that hid the new commercial center has been removed. Behind it is a fence of metal bars. The center doesn't seem to be open yet.

The toilets in the old parking lot are still locked.

We saw a big crowd at the single exit turnstile from the facility. The gate next to it, which occasionally opens to relieve pressure, is padlocked with a thick chain.

The men we were watching for passed through in about 15 minutes.

4:55 At the entrance to the checkpoint, the turnstiles are closed. Two people cross back into Palestinian territory. At 4:59 the turnstiles open again, and close again a minute later. Lines are beginning to back up. As usual, there are men in the women's line, but when women arrive the men let them through to the head of the line. After three minutes, at 5:03, the lines start moving again. We pick more people to watch for.

5:10 The flow of people leaving the checkpoint is thin at the moment. The ones we were looking for get through in seven minutes.

A man tells us that he got a ticket, a fine of 730 shekels, for sitting in a cafe in Netanya while waiting for his boss. It sounds to us like that's not the whole story, but we refer him to "Kav LaOved." Another man tells us that passage through the checkpoint is good today.

5:30 We leave