Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim)

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Edith Maor and Nitza Herzog

The checkpoint opened on time at 4:00. The rate of passage was reasonable at the beginning; from the entrance to the "black box" (we can't tell what happens inside) until the exit, a woman we chose to watch for, took six minutes and a man took twelve. Later the time inside lengthened to twenty minutes.

People who spoke to us complained about two problem areas:

* On the Palestinian side, where no one maintains order and the turmoil is great, and

* Inside the building where we can't watch, where our informants reported that only half of the checking lanes were manned.

Sundays are the busiest days and we saw a lot of serious crowding, resembling a flock of sheep...

We notice a phenomenon, people come very early in order to stand around for an hour or more before they set out for work. Evidently they worry that they could be held up going through the checkpoint.

One man told us that he gets up around three a.m., and gets home around six p.m. However, both he and several others asked for the checkpoint to open earlier to relieve some of the pressure.

Our observation raised sad and bitter feelings about the humiliation caused to thousands of human beings under our authority.