Bethlehem (300)

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Silvia P. Goni Z. Ronit D. (Reporting), Translation: Naomi Gal

6:30 - We went back to the checkpoint after an absence during the holidays. Outside, as usual, a lot of people and cars. Inside five windows are open. A soldier, a policeman and a security guard are standing next to the wall and observing the scene. Apparently they had previously opened a passage between the windows. Currently there is no need for it. There are people, but it’s not overcrowded and the 5 windows are sufficient. According to what the policeman says on the radio it seems there is a technical problem on the Palestinian side with one of the “sleeves” since last night, which they haven’t yet solved.

It starts to rain. We can hear the raindrops spluttering on the roof, and outside the checkpoint people are huddled under the shed, trying to stay dry. M. the ecumenical from the Philippines arrives with H. from Sweden, who is usually with the Nablus team but came to visit Bethlehem. It took them about an hour to pass from the Palestinian side of the checkpoint to the Israeli side. A. our acquaintance arrives too and complains that it took a long time to pass today. He asks where we were last week.

6:50 - The hall filled so they opened the gate between the windows and then, when the gate closed they passed people in the end window without checking with the computer. Men aged 45 and over and women and children were allowed to pass there, and thus the pressure on the other windows was relieved. A little after seven it emptied. People who passed told us that many are still waiting on the Palestinian side. Every now and then we heard shouts from the Palestinian side. At 7: 15 all calmed down and they closed the end window. Later they opened the gate again as needed. Later some of the windows were closed too, as was the partition behind window 4.

One of the passers complained that there are people who jump over the fences on the Palestinian side, and no one prevents it. Sometimes the soldiers and the security guards prevent it, but usually (and today as well) they do not interfere. We asked him why the Palestinians don’t prevent it themselves. According to him the Palestinian Authority People are forbidden from getting to the checkpoint and among the Palestinians themselves it is unacceptable that anyone from Bethlehem will organize people from Hebron, and vice versa. So the solution, he said, is that the Israelis maintain order or raise the fences, so people won’t be able to climb over them.

7:30 – It emptied. Two windows remained open. We left.

Silvia and Goni went on to Etzion DCL where they helped people write applications for the removal of security prevention and provide guidance for the required documents.