Bethlehem, Sun 1.8.10, Morning
07.00 am, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: when I entered the checkpoint terminal, Palestinian workers outside told me that today "everything is flowing but with difficulty". They reported that the passage through the checkpoint took 40 minutes. However, the reality at seven o'clock in the morning was different and much worse.
The exit door of the terminal was half closed. Three inspection station windows were open but there was no-one there. Outside there was a noise of a mass of workers. Suddenly several tens of people were released and they filled the hall. Passage through the terminal was slow, apparently because the soldiers were from a new group. One of them even called-out to me to find-out who I was and what I was doing there - which held-up all those waiting. I rebuked him and phoned the Humanitarian Center. The Palestinian women reported that the passage intended for them had not been opened.
There were several "waves" like this: an empty hall that filled up with a seething crowd. Repeated calls to the center and then to the Liaison Office eventually brought the sympathetic "A" to this side of the checkpoint. He didn't try to gloss-over the problem, clarified the situation and spoke to the "green" soldiers who were doing everything slowly. However, everything repeated itself : an empty hall, full on the other side, a new wave arrived which passed through slowly for another hour.
08.00 am: the hall emptied and no-one remained on the other side.
It was a black day for those passing through the Bethlehem Checkpoint.