Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Tue 5.1.10, Morning
07.00 AM, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: many vehicles are waiting at the side of theroad to the checkpoint. As we approach the entrance of the checkpoint, we get anangry reception “today is a very badday. Go to the other side of thecheckpoint and you’ll see that many people are waiting there for a long timeand can’t enter. Why are you on thisside, where eveything is OK ?. Look atmy hand”.
(He shows us his hand with bloody wounds and explains that they arefrom the fence which he was pushed against because of the crush).
Atthe entrance on this side of the checkpoint everything is quiet, fiveinspection stations are open, the soldiers are sleeping, or talking throughtheir telephones, and they don’t have any work since practically no labourers arepassing through, and whoever arrives traverses it without any queue.
Everyonewho comes out has an angry comment. Forexample “I was in the queue for two hours, my tranport didn’t wait for me, andnow I shall have to take two buses and of course I shall be late for work. Why do the soldiers work so slowly ?”. We speak to the humanitarian office, butaccording to them everything is in order, two gates are open and the soldierssay that everything is OK. Today thereis a festival and therefore there are many people. In spite of repeated calls to thehumanitarian office, nothing moves and the flow of people is still slow.
08.15 AM: we depart and still hear the noise of peoplewaiting in line. Today has been particularly unpleasant; on the surfaceeverything is in order but in fact the passage through the checkpoint isshockingly slow.
08.30 AM, Etzion DCL: theDCL is almost empty, with just two bewildered young students, who don’tunderstand what is being wanted from them, and who are waiting for captainNatan.
Thoughts and Reflections
Inmy conversation with the humanitarian office, I tried to explain to the soldierthere exactly where the hold-up occurred, and where the Palestinians had towait. It became obvious that thesoldier had never seen the checkpoint and didn’t have a clue how it isbuilt. Therefore, he also didn’tunderstand why I told him that in spite of the long queue outside thecheckpoint there was no need to open more inspection stations,but on the contrary what was worrying was that there was no work for thesoldiers manning the (existing) stations. In short it was a conversation between deafpeople. However, I hope that Ieventually succeededto explain to him how the checkpoint is built and where the problem existed.
Inmy humble opinion, today’s hold-up was caused either by the soldiers or,according to the Palestinians, their officer who decided to “teach them alesson” by closing the passageway from time to time for several minutes “untilthey behaved properly”. Who is incharge of their commanders? In the DCLwe were told that the humanitarian office is responsible only for theoperation of the humanitarian passageway and have no authority over the normalinspection stations.
Thestudents who were waiting for “the captain” in the Etzion DCL showed me a note,hand-written in Hebrew, summoning them to come today for a conversation withthe captain at the DCL. The students,who don’t know Hebrew and certainly not handwrittenHebrew, asked me to read and translate the note for them. It is difficult to believe that the “notesystem” (handwritten) still exists.