Bethlehem, Fri 31.7.09, Morning

Clair O. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Summary : The heart bleeds for the children

Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300:  two inspection stations are open, manned by new staff – a male and a female soldier who are polite and smiling and . . .commanders who ensure that all the procedures are fully carried out.  Most of the Palestinians pass through smoothly, although occasionally they have to put their hands on the finger-print machine again and again.


About six children are not allowed through during the whole shift. They have come with their father who has a work-permit, and are equipped with a kushan (certificate of registration), but this doesn’t help them at all. One of the fathers begs, waits, tries each of the inspection stations, asks to speak to the checkpoint commander, but to no avail and he leaves. Eventually he has to take his two small children back to Bethlehem and to return alone.

Is there no way to persuade the Civil Administration to stop this awful instruction whose sole purpose is to torment the Palestinians even more ?

A 55 year-old man  with a permit, who works in Israel and passes through the checkpoint every day, shows-up on the computer as GSS-denied. He also tries his luck here and there and asks to speak to the checkpoint commander, who again doesn’t come out of his office. He is told that he must go to the DCL on Sunday, and again have his finger-prints taken. He says he did this only a month ago, but nothing helps.

One of the security guards says that actually the finger-print checking machine is very reliable, and that most of the problems are caused by the DCL which doesn’t bother to update it’s data-base. 

At 10.00 AM there is a very loud announcement over the loudspeakers that everyone must leave the building and that the checkpoint will be closed for a few minutes. It appears that this is a “suspicious-object exercise”, or something similar and indeed the doors remain closed only for two minutes.

A young woman who speaks English approaches me and says that on the Palestinian side a new inspection has been added. Instead of the passports being inspected once, the people are put into small rooms where the passports are inspected and again inspected at the normal inspection station, before they arrive at the third inspection on the Israeli side.

She lives in Bethlehem and says that this is the first time that she is witness to this procedure.  She says that there is quite a large number of people waiting on the other side. 

Is this a special preparation before Ramadan ?