Bethlehem, Tue 15.6.10, Afternoon

Yael L.-J., Chana S. (reporting)


16.30 - 17.30 PM, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: there was a steady stream of workers returning home.  In addition, three separate busloads of tourists were coming towards Jerusalem.  At first, the four stations that were operating could cope, one of them dedicated to the incoming tourists.  But suddenly two posts were closed and this caused total chaos.  Lines of workers formed outside, the solitary ‘private' guard couldn't cope and kept phoning desperately for help.  Meanwhile, the three Israeli tour guides were waiting for their tourists to come out, who did so in dribs and drabs.  The guides all complained to us about the conditions - that routines were changed without warning, that so much of the tour time was wasted at the crossing and, also, that there were no toilets so they had to take their tourists to the nearest gas station instead.

Finally the guard managed to persuade his chief how bad the crush was, so suddenly a police officer appeared.  He opened a gate between the checking stations, the crowd of Palestinians surged through and the crisis was over. 

Interestingly, there seemed to be no need for their documents and fingerprints to be checked!  We later learned that this happens quite frequently.