Bethlehem, Wed 2.6.10, Morning
06:40 am, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: a morning out of hell. Still outside the CP people told us that the crowding on the Palestinian side was terrible. People were fighting, and many used the term ‘war' to describe the tensions over there.
A man told us that he holds a special permit that apparently allows him to go through the CP at all hours of the day. He had arrived at the CP at 04:00 AM, as usual. The soldier at the post was asleep. He called for him again and again to open the turnstile, but the soldier didn't wake up until forty minutes later.
An irate contractor, an Israeli, approached us - his employees arrive every morning at 04:00, so that they will be at the head of the line when the CP opens at 05:00 AM, and here he is, it's almost 07:00, and they're still stuck somewhere on the other side. This happens almost every morning. If Israel is not interested that Palestinians work here, it should forbid employing them altogether. He is definitely not one of us [the left, apparently], he insisted, but what is going on in Bethlehem CP is insufferable. He was also critical of the soldiers' behavior towards the Palestinians.
Inside the CP - business as usual. The lines were never too long. We heard shots of anger and frustration from the other side.
An ecumenical volunteer told us that some days before the soldier in charge of one of the turnstiles was a somewhat bored, so he'd make "funny" animal voices through the loud speaker and then would laugh loudly.
He'd light the signal for people on line to approach the turnstile, and then would put it off, shouting at them to step back, and then again was making those idiotic laughing sounds.
It is clear that one of the main reasons for the anarchy in Bethlehem CP is the total absence of officers at the critical places. Indeed a police officer was strolling to and fro on our side of the CP, totally indifferent to the shouts from the other side. Later on, on our way out of the CP we saw him giving tickets to two Palestinians for parking offence.