Bethlehem c.p -You will see the land and will not enter it

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Hanna Barag, T.H
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

9:00-12:30 Several buses were parked near the stop at the checkpoint’s exit and a sparse flow of passengers. A minibus drover shouted loudly “Tel Aviv – Yaffo” and even had a few passengers.

The checkpoints walls were covered with huge posters advertising tourist attractions in Israel – the irony of mockery as Palestinians have no access to these sites.

The hours I spent monitoring this checkpoint today were some of the hardest I’ve experienced since my first days in Machsomwatch. Whole families, all dressed up in their holiday best, many little children dressed up like royalty – were sent back home because the Israeli Minister of Defense decided to impose collective punishment on all Palestinians. Not that this does not apply at other times as well, but on the holiest of Muslim holidays (Eid Al Fitr, concluding the Ramadan month of fasting) disappointment and rage are at their highest. Add to this the abrasive, violent conduct of the civilian security guards operating the checkpoint and you get the horrifying picture I witnessed there today. Men over 55 were allowed through (on condition, of course, that they were bot blacklisted from entering Israel for one reason or another – and how many are there?!) and women over 50.  The resulting situation was unbearable – many men came through first and then stood and waited helplessly, in vain, for their wives and families. Some vented their anger on me and near me – and I felt that were the ground to suddenly open I would gladly leap inside and disappear. How cruel!! This state has lost its last vestiges of humaneness for good. Those holding work permits in Israel (that are also valid on Fridays) did get through, as well as tradesmen. It was also a good day for Christians.

The civilian security guard cursed in every possible style – but two words were uppermost: leftist and whore. Well, leftist is okay by me, but an 82-year old whore, tiny and wrinkled? That’s way too much…

Naturally I complained and he was moved. But I doubt whether his successors would have behaved differently. Hatred towards Palestinians is the driving force. Many refusals to let people through were accompanied with pushing and shoving, some light, some less so. I kept yelling “Hey, what are you doing!” which did not help, naturally. Today I saw violence “at its best”, society that power and occupation have corrupted it to the core, and the banality of all that evil…

Several tourists passed by too. One group stopped to ask me what I was doing there, and why I was yelling and shedding tears. I patiently explained. Finally one of the women turned to me, from the American South, and said: “They are killing the Jews so what do you expect?” That was the salt rubbed into the wound.

250,000 special holiday entry permits have been revoked – just so you know.