Bethlehem, Fri 12.11.10, Morning
9:00 am, Bethlehem – Checkpoint 300: two positions open in the same booth. As in recent times (at least 2 months) the line is not long but people emerge cross and grumbling at having had to wait for hours on the other side
-- "Women against checkpoints" -- what are you doing? you've been here since 2003, and nothing has changed! Why can't you help us?
-- So true...
A man of around 45 is detained near the booth. He has a permit and says he crosses every day. The female soldier took the permit and went to check. He's been waiting for almost 30 mins. We called the Humanitarian Centre and they refer us to the DCL where they write down the Palestinian's ID number, promise to check and ask us to call back in a few minutes. Meanwhile the soldier is upset. She orders the man to return to Bethlehem. While I'm trying to reach the DCL again and repeat the ID number, she shouts in my direction:
"Perhaps he's a terrorist who's planning an attack near your home!"
After getting hold of the Palestinian's ID number -- and he's already on his way back to Bethlehem -- the DCL tells us he must return to his DCL in Hebron.
Now and then we hear voices rising from the other side: people saying they have been waiting since 5:00 am.
"If we reach our job by 10:00 how much time will remain for work?"
Occasionally the soldier's coarse shouts are also heard.
Suddenly she calls me, opens the door of the booth and asks:
-- "Do you know why it's taking so long to cross today?"
-- Do you really want to know?"
-- It's not just to-day, I've been watching this for weeks. I understand that very few positions are open on the other side.
-- I'll tell you why: this morning the crowd pressed so hard on the turnstiles that everything broke, and then it was impossible to cross, that's why it's going so slowly. Yesterday morning, all had crossed by 6:00. Today their behaviour is impossible.
There is order with precise explanations in this soldier's world.