Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Tue 31.3.09, Morning
06:30 AM, Bethlehem - Checkpont 300: four checking posts were open. People were streaming outside smiling and relaxed - it was decidedly a “good” morning. Someone said that it was “very good” and another didn't hesitate to define it as “excellent”. He added that the previous day he got out as late as 09:30. So, he asked the inevitable question, why isn't every morning like this morning?
By 07:10 the CP was empty both sides.
A doctor working at El Mkassed hospital was refused passage. He has, he said, a magnetic card, but he never carries it; his credentials are enough. Not this morning. Long debates on the phone did not help; those are the regulations, we were told. Finally he tried at another post. The soldier there was willing to check his documents and his palm print, and the doctor was allowed through.
A little boy of seven was not as lucky. He didn't have his birth certificate. The soldier at the booth was nice, and she made calls, trying to help, to no avail. We called the IDF Humanitarian Center, and they transferred our call to the DCL. Nothing doing, they said, those are the regulations. The last we saw of the little boy was when he was going back to Bethlehem, accompanied by an elder boy, maybe his brother, crying bitterly.
This business of birth certificate that children under 18 have to carry around is one of the many mysteries of occupation. It is a document written in Arabic that most of the soldiers are not capable of reading anyhow. Its contribution to national security is dubious. But once someone somewhere decided that it is a must it would never be reversed. Children tend to lose things. Maybe the little boy had lost his - the security man said that this was the third consecutive morning that the boy didn't have the document - and was afraid to tell about the loss of this precious certificate. Who knows.
08:25 AM, Etzion DCL:. the checkpoint is empty.