Bethlehem, Mon 16.8.10, Morning

Chia O., Ada G. (reporting)

0.700 am, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: this was the worst day that I have experienced at the Bethlehem Checkpoint.

Four inspection stations were open; in the first one a female soldier was dosing,and there was almost no activity because the people arrived in a dribble.  In contrast, there were loud voices from the Palestinian side. The people who came through were full of harsh complaints. According to their description and from the the waves of shouting, there was a terrible crush there.  People said that it took them hours to pass, because only one passage was open and people could only pass through it one-by-one.  After ten people passed the passage was closed, and after some time it was opened again, and this is how it continued.

One of the Palestinians told me  "Its terrible, I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel, THERE IS NO HOPE FOR PEACE HERE !"

People told us that this is the worst of all the crossing-points.

An officer with whom we exchanged a few words told us that there was a problem but he didn't enlarge on this.  He promised that in another quarter of an hour everything would start flowing.  However, the dribble continued until 08.00 when we left to continue on our way.  At the end of our shift at 11.00 we returned to the checkpoint and there were still tens of people waiting on the Palestinian side.  Total despair . . . 

Is this how the "easing" of the Palestinians passage through the checkpoints during Ramadan is supposed to be ? 

Between 07.25 and 07.40, 70 people passed through.  Simple arithmetic shows that if 280 people an hour pass through, then a little more than a thousand would pass during four hours.  However, according to the Ecumenical volunteers' count, about 2500 Palestinians passed through during about two hours earlier in the morning.