Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Tue 2.3.10, Afternoon

Yael J., Chana S. (reporting). Avital F. (driving)

2:50p.m., Etzion DCL:  when wearrived we found a young man waiting for his friend who had entered 5 minutesearlier. While we all waited outside,first one big car arrived with two men who entered quickly, followed by anotherfrom which one man emerged.  He said‘don’t worry.  I’m coming straight out.’  And, indeed, within a few minutes all threereturned and left in their cars.

We askedthe young man if his friend had gone to get a permit but he said, no, he hadbeen called by the Intelligence.  Heshowed us an ‘invitation’ that he had also received, but for the followingmorning at 10.  He had no idea what thepurpose of the summons was.  He himselfhas no permit and works in the Hebronarea.

We then hadto leave. 

4:00 p.m.,  Jabba (ha-lamed heh) junction:  there wasno traffic here, other than three white buses waiting for passengers.

4:25p.m., Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300:  after weentered and were standing in our usual place against the wall opposite thecheckpoints, the private-company guard (who had ignored us at the entrance)rushed up and told us we were disturbing and that it was a closed armyarea.  As both these statements werepatently absurd, we remained. 

There were fourstations functioning, though one was often occupied by people (many tourists)coming out of Bethlehem. One big organised group of Japanese touristsentered towards Bethlehem.

Then theguard came and demanded our i.d. cards which we said we would show to thecommander or police.  ‘I am [like] thepolice in all respects,’ was his reply.

Thensuddenly he announced an ‘incident’ and that we should get out.  As by now we were so sceptical of all hisstatements it took us a while to gauge if he was serious, by which time he hadclosed the doors and the police officer came and scolded us for not obeyinghim.  The ‘incident’ seems to have beenover quickly because within 2 minutes the doors were again open and workerswere once again streaming in.   At thispoint we did make our way out as the heavy traffic had obviously come to anend.

At thispoint the guard came out to speak to us and criticise us for getting in hisway, when his job was to look after these poor folk (‘ha-miskenim ha-ayleh’) andthat he has nothing against us (i.e., Machsomwatch).   When we said that if he hadn’t told usnonsense like it’s being a closed military area, we would have taken hiswarning about an ‘incident’ more seriously, he repeatedly denied ever havingmade that statement.  I think,interestingly enough, that he sincerely believes this.  Shouting out commands and throwing his weightaround seems to have made him unaware of the meaning of each particularcommand.   

And whatwas the ‘incident’?  They had seen a mansuspiciously running.