Bethlehem, Wed 2.6.10, Morning
06:40 am, Bethlehem CP. A morning out of hell. Still outside theCP people told us that the crowding on the Palestinian side was terrible.People were fighting, and many used the term ‘war’ to describe the tensionsover there.
A man told us that he holds a special permit that apparentlyallows him to go through the CP at all hours of the day. He had arrived at theCP at 04:00, as usual. The soldier at the post was asleep. He called for himagain and again to open the turnstile, but the soldier didn’t wake up untilforty minutes later.
An irate contractor, an Israeli, approached us – hisemployees arrive every morning at 04:00, so that they will be at the head ofthe line when the CP opens at 05:00, and here he is, it’s almost 07:00, andthey’re still stuck somewhere on the other side. This happens almost everymorning. If Israel is not interested that Palestinians work here, it shouldforbid employing them altogether. He is definitely not one of us [the left,apparently], he insisted, but what is going on in Bethlehem CP is insufferable.He was also critical of the soldiers’ behavior towards the Palestinians.
Inside the CP – business as usual. The lines were never toolong. We heard shots of anger and frustration from the other side.
An ecumenical volunteer told us that some days before thesoldier in charge of one of the turnstiles was a somewhat bored, so he’d make“funny” animal voices through the loud speaker and then would laugh loudly.He’d light the signal for people on line to approach the turnstile, and thenwould put it off, shouting at them to step back, and then again was makingthose idiotic laughing sounds.
It is clear that one of the main reasons for the anarchy inBethlehem CP is the total absence of officers at the critical places. Indeed apolice officer was strolling to and fro on our side of the CP, totallyindifferent to the shouts from the other side. Later on, on our way out of theCP we saw him giving tickets to two Palestinians for parking offence.