Bethlehem, Tue 30.11.10, Afternoon
Personal remark: because of Avital's departure to the States we intended to shorten the shift in order to give him some time for preparations. We decided to observe only the Bethlehem checkpoint. The shift turned out to be a nightmare.
15.30 PM, Bethlehem – checkpoint 300: one counter was open. A young female soldier let everybody through to Bethlehem without even checking them. Only one Muslim woman with two young children was sent back (not allowed to go to Bethlehem). The woman was accompanied by a man who was allowed to pass. We could not see or understand what happened.
At 15.50 PM more people arrived. Another three counters opened up. In each queue there were about ten people. All of them were processed quickly. Outside the counters more people were waiting to pass to Bethlehem.
Everything worked well until 16.00 PM. A civil guard got the command to close the door to the hallway. He had to push back all the workers who were already inside, near the counters.
Outside - where I stood writing my notes - two large groups were pushed and mingled into each other. They were angry, shouting and hammering on the door.
More and more Palestinians were arriving in busses from Jerusalem and hundreds of people were jammed together.
Despite the chaos they did not push me. They were very respectful towards me.
The explanation for the interruption of the passage was the formal visit of the president of the Federal Republic of Germany who was passing the checkpoint to Bethlehem.
The soldiers operated in normal pace already at 16.30 PM but long queues were seen outside the counters when we left, just before 17:00 PM.