Bethlehem Checkpoint, Ramadan June 2017 - 50 years of occupation
Third Friday of the month of Ramadan
We arrived at 08:00 and there was already a flow of worshipers mostly women. Dozens of buses were lining up to collect the passers on their way to prayer. Last week’s drone was replaced by a balloon with a camera that hovered above the checkpoint and took pictures. The drone waited for action on the road in front of the checkpoint. This time they tried to complicate our entrance into the "sterile" area and it took a few calls. The age restrictions among Palestinians were very strict, and we saw quite a few people who had to go back. The soldiers received a radio alert about a guy dressed as a girl in pink and they were all on their toes. We waited to see if the "girl" will be caught - probably mere nonsense or a very successful disguise.
Two Border Policewomen wanted to know who we are and what we do. We explained as best as we could, one of them, a resident of the settlement Anatot showed empathy, versus her friend who was hostile and sour. One of the Border Policemen, who sent people back because they haven’t met the required conditions, accompanied his words with a "friendly" push on the back. Humiliation on top of humiliation – although the push was not violent.
The Palestinian police had already sorted at the checkpoint entrance young men according to the age limits for passage under the laws of the occupier. There were also (link) officers from the Palestinian DCL. It was impossible not to think about what these people felt during this harsh predicament.
For many years we have observed during Ramadan at the Bethlehem checkpoint and in terms of "order" indeed the passage is easier, there is even a huge fan. But it is hard to close your eyes at the fact that freedom of worship, which Israel declared, is an illusion and deception. Each family prevented from praying as a family because of boys aged 14 and a half is well aware of the occupation booth during this most important holiday.
In the evening, we heard of the woman soldier killed at Damascus Gate, another victim of the occupation that seems unlikely to end until next year's Ramadan!