Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 30.3.08, Morning

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Sylvia P, Chana A (reporting)


7:00 Checkpoint 300: A very bad day. The terminal was opened late, at 5:20 and, this being Sunday, the crowding is unbelievable. The Ecumenicals told us about the happenings on the Bethlehem side of the wall: The separation fence between incoming and outgoing pedestrians was breached at some point and people started using both paths, thus causing chaos and anger. The ensuing pushing and shoving became so threatening that the Ecumenicals had to be helped over the fence to be out of danger.
From where we were watching, on the Israeli side, we saw only long lines and very quiet workers. The line finally dwindled at about 8:30, which is very late. Two events worth mentioning:
A man from Bethlehem, not very young and very heavy, was sitting on one of the now empty plant pots. He had a bruise above his left eye and claimed he got it from a stone thrown by a soldier. Dudu, the deputy commander of the terminal, had a different story: He had examined the film from the cameras on the Palestinian side and claimed the opposite was true: The man had tried to climb over the fence and had caused the bruise himself. It is hard to imagine how he could have climbed the fence at his age and with his girth, but we cannot prove either way. The bruise was not very serious and the Palestinian was calling his employer to take him to his job.
Another event was the following: A disunited family, half Israeli half Palestinian was on its way to an appointment with the ministry of Interior at 10:00. The husband, with a green ID and two older children were already on the Israeli side with properly prepared permits. The wife, with a blue ID and three minor children were still on the Bethlehem side and she was not allowed to take them across because they had no permit and no kushan (birth certificates). What an odd situation! The minor children were registered in the husband's ID but not in the wife's. We started calling everyone we could, but to no avail. Then we started arguing with the soldiers on duty and the guards and were told off. In the end, after about close to half an hour, the wife and three youngsters were allowed to go through.
Etsion DCL: We arrived at about 9:00 AM. We were approached by several people and took their names etc.
We left at 10:00 AM.