Bethlehem, Fri 7.1.11, Morning

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Efrat Benbenishti, Hannah Barag (reporting)

Bethlehem- checkpoint 300:  shouting can be heard from the depths of the checkpoint.  Clearly passage is difficult, and many have been waiting a long while.  A long line forms also at the window where documents are checked.  Hard to understand why each person crossing has to present three documents - an ID, a magnetic card, and a permit.  What is this - a reading test for the soldiers?  Or is it the case of a state which cannot trust the validity of the documents it has itself produced? Or is it just another version of irrational and wicked harrassment by the bureaucracy?  Who knows!

Only one mango-meter is working and for the duration of our stay only one checking station is open.

A young officer comes up to us to ask if all is OK.  No, we say, nothing is OK.

The officer (second lieutenant): So what do you want me to do?

We: We're not in charge here; the solutions are up to you.

Officer: So should we post more manpower?

We: Yes, after all, it's well-known that people leave for prayers at this hour, and that requires more manpower.

Officer (muttering aggressively):  I have no more soldiers.  If you have, bring them.