Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
Bethlehem (300), Fri 30.12.11, Morning
Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: three lanes are open. Many Palestinians are standing in line, but things move quietly and relatively quickly. Here and there someone’s denied entry because of an expired or invalid permit. Hardly any children today.
At about 10:15, two young female international volunteers come out. We’d already met one of them two weeks ago. They tell us it took them 20 minutes in total to cross through and that there are very few people on the Palestinian side. They also report that last week they witnessed IDF soldiers violently preventing Palestinians from praying at the checkpoint. It was raining and a group of 40-50 people crowded into the Palestinian side of the checkpoint to pray. Soldiers violently pushed them outside. Two or three of the Palestinians returned and were again repelled with force. An officer informed them that praying inside the secure area is forbidden.
Does this justify such violence?
No, of course not.
We report the case to Hanna. The two volunteers wondered if it was a new regulation. Is it? Nobody knew anything about it, and they initially supposed it to be an isolated incident, but they report something similar happening yesterday.