Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)
5:00 On our way to the entrance of Irtah CP we see three lanes of traffic open, but the women's lane, which of course is full of men, stays closed. We pick two people to watch for.
5:05 On our way around the building, a civilian guard, evidently new, stops us and asks what we're doing. In an authoritarian tone he asks to see our IDs. We refuse, and tell him he has no right to interfere with our movements, and walk on. Around 5:15 we hear shouting from inside the building. A quarter of an hour later someone coming out explains that the interior gates closed suddenly and without warning, leaving people who had already passed the first stages of processing stuck.
The people we chose get through in 18 and 20 minutes--longer than we've become accustomed to in the past year.
5:25 On our way around the building again, people stop us to ask if anything is being done about additional toilets... a well-known old problem.
This time the women's line opens first, and after a couple of minutes also the other lines. In the space of three minutes more than a hundred people enter the checkpoint. They tell us that there's a lot of pressure at the entrance to the lines on the Palestinian side, but we have no way to observe it.
On our way out a man asks if we can help his brother get a work permit. We give him Sylvia's contact information.
5:40 We head for Hable. As usual the road past Taybe is jammed and the traffic is lawless.
6:20 We arrive at Hable. The gates are already open, the second group of five people is passing into the seam zone. The procedure seems to go smoothly, the line waiting isn't long or pressured. We decide not to wait around.
6:35 We leave.