Bethlehem, Thu 25.3.10, Morning

Rachel F., Nora B. (reporting)

6:10 AM, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300:  There are 2 booths open and queues are not long . Later, another 2 booths opened.

A man, from the Private Security, orders us to leave the checkpoint, since it is a "sterileinfo-icon place". We refuse and request a written order. The man is rude and tells us: "What do you think, that because you are Jewish you can be here?" He consults someone and then "lets"  us stay but only close to the wall! Later, he does not allow us to talk with the volunteers inside the terminal, only outside!

At a certain point, a siren is heard; the crossing is closed and after approximately a quarter of an hour, reopened. During our shift, several times the crossing is closed for several minutes, and reopened later.

The checkpoint commander is on the spot. He has goodwill (this fact is also reported by the Ecumenic volunteer), but when we say that maybe a solution is to open more metal detectors stations, he tells us to address the Army Chief commander, as he is told that there is no budget for it; and when we tell him, that many soldiers and guards address the Palestinians in a rude way, he lifts his shoulders showing his frustration and tells us that many times he tried to talk with them, but without results.

The volunteer from the Ecumenics, told us that this was a very, very bad day. The checkpoint on the Palestinian side opened on time, but until 7:20 only about 60% of the average have gone through the checkpoint. Still hundreds are waiting outside. One (or two) people were hurt by the congested crowd, and were evacuated by an ambulance.  Besides, there is a group of about 50 Palestinians who every morning push themselves to the humanitarian queue. The checkpoint commander, requested from them, in Arabic, to leave that queue. Since they refused, the queue was closed.

The Palestinians also reported a very bad day, especially women, who had to wait much, much longer than usually, due to the fact that the Humanitarian queue was shut.