Bethlehem (300), Walaja, Tue 27.3.12, Afternoon

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Yael I., Ruth O., Ilana D. (reporting)

 Bethlehem From 3:00 to 6:00 PM
It had been a very long time since we visited our young friend A. and his family. We no longer announce our visits, since we do not want them to prepare a feast for us. We thought therefore that they were not home, since none of the children had run out to greet us. However, we found the four kids at home with the mother (who ran inside to cover her head), each in a corner quietly doing homework. The mother had just been explaining the Naqba for a history lesson of the youngest in the kitchen. The oldest is now in college doing a preparatory course for the university three days a week. He initially had wanted to study nursing, but it now turns out that he excels in English (thanks to his mother who was born and raised in Kuwait and speaks English with them at home), so he will probably continue in that subject; an idyllic and very peaceful scene.
We sat (for the first time) in the kitchen, because we didn’t want to disturb those who were studying in the living room and the oldest son prepared tea for us. A., the father was not home yet, but appeared after a while. He had been taken home by an employer via the tunnels, since he had heard that again people are checked at CP 300 leaving Jerusalem, which causes a long delay. He told us that for the last couple of weeks there are again random checks on the way out, causing long delays. However, this is nothing compared to the waits in the morning. He is lucky if it takes only an hour. Often when the wait is two hours or more the workers who have to reach Rehovot or Tel Aviv just go back – a day’s work gone. He is still employed by the Convent in Ein Karem, but does not have work every day. In January and February when it was so rainy he only worked a couple of days during an entire month and he was home embroidering, but now before Pesach and even more so during the festival he has plenty of work.  His back pains have eased a little after he had been treated by a chiropractor on Bethlehem Road.
There are some new and annoying developments inside the CP of which we were not aware. A new decree forbids workers to use the exit hall for their prayers while waiting for transportation to the South (Hebron, etc.). The ecumenical volunteers are not longer allowed to be stationed within the checkpoint where they used to report and be in contact with their colleagues on both sides and also with the women of  MW in the mornings.  They come for three months and often make friends with the workers. A.’s family had been very friendly with a girl from Michigan (Michigan Peace Teams), but she is no longer allowed to enter Israel. About a month ago they conducted a count and found that in the morning just over 4000 workers cross into Israel. If the CP would be manned properly it should not take so long to cross. He told us that the DCL-soldier smiles, but does nothing to alleviate the problem.