Bethlehem, Fri 2.10.09, Morning

Claire A. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

 09:15 - 10:45 AM, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300:
Summary: The niece came from Hebron and returned as she came. Rudeness against an elderly couple from Norway. And again, how much the permit from the Army Spokesman about our presence at the passage and our right to make photographs is disregarded.

Closureinfo-icon. Very few Palestinians pass. In both directions mostly tourists in groups who pass in both directions. Only one window is open. Two guards circulate and talk to the female soldiers who serves the window. A 50 y.o. woman arrives with her niece (about 14 - 15 y.o.). But she has an official paper in Arabic but no accompanying parent and thus she cannot pass. Both are quiet and don't give any signs of being in distress or being angry. The woman passes, the young woman goes back as she came. I approach the guard who spoke to the woman in Arabic:

  • What a disappointment to come here all the way from Hebron and be forced to turn back !

  • Right, but I prefer to stop her here. Do you know what they will do to her when they catch her inside without the appropriate permits!?

An elderly couple arrives from Bethlehem. The man photographs the hand of a Palestinian woman in the identification apparatus. The guard runs towards him and with a surprising rudeness (because first he spoke with a sense of honor, practically identifying with the Palestinians), aggressively, tells them it is forbidden to take pictures, requires to have the camerainfo-icon. I interfere and show the despised permit from the Army Spokesman, that has already proven several times its uselessness. The guard loses his composure completely and starts yelling at me. The second guard approaches. The two disregard the document completely, and say again and again that photography is forbidden. The man holds his camera with trembling hands and asks what is wrong, and why there is no notice up that photography is forbidden, and contends that he only took a picture of the hand on the apparatus for identification. His wife tells us that they are from Norway, that he was here a couple of years ago with an eucumenical mission, that they visited in Bethlehem and Beit Sachur and they are on their way back to their hotel in Jerusalem. They both look somewhat bewildered and I tell them in English that they don't like peace activists here and it is important that they report in Norway what they experienced here now. This makes the guards very angry and they yell at me to leave and stop bothering them in performing their work. They call the officer in charge by radio.

  • There is here one from Machsomwatch who is making a raucus and causing a provocation.

In the meantime they have shown the tourist the forbidden picture(s) he took and they deleted them. The wife attempts to mollify the guards:

  • I came to observe my 75th birthday in Palestine and I felt that that would be beautiful and moving.

The guard rudely lifts his eyes heavenward and concludes with his colleague:

  • what is she saying to me? Let her go already!

At last the officer arrives, a border-policeman, armed from head to toe with self-satisfaction and a bottomless disdain, and without looking at the document, points with exaggerated slowness, while stressing every word:

- We are not the army, we are the police. Did you get it now?!