Bethlehem, Tue 23.6.09, Morning
6.30 a.m., Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: the usual enormous crowd outside, waiting for transport to
work. But inside it was totally empty and the four checkpoints were
idle! However, we could hear that behind the partition there were a
lot of people. This situation lasted for a full half-hour when
suddenly people started coming through in a rush. Long queues formed.
We were told later by a police officer who later came out of his
office that there had been a mechanical/electrical failure in the
carousels and that is what caused the delay. Needless to say,
everyone was angry and frustrated. (By the way, this policeman said
that, compared with Qalandiya, this checkpoint was "Switzerland").
At one of the posts, the woman soldier carried on a telephone
conversation for a long time while handling the 'customers', merely
indicating with a tilt of the head or pointing a finger to indicate
where to place their documents, etc. In general, quite a few people
had to make a few attempts to get the fingerprinting machine to work -
and this caused additional delays.
Another woman soldier, however, was extremely considerate. She saw a
Palestinian woman talking to us, obviously with a problem, called her
over and helped her (On doctor's orders, the woman could not use the
fingerprinting machine because of a hand ailment.)
By 8.00, the crowd was through.
Unfortunately, we were unable to visit Etzion today.