Bethlehem, Sun 19.12.10, Morning
Bethlehem – Checkpoint 300, 6:55 am: today is an especially bad day at the Bethlehem Checkpoint. The hall is nearly empty but on the Bethlehem side there is a crowd of hundreds of people. Only one inspection station with a magnetic card reader is working and we hear shouts of impatience. The people arriving at the Israeli side report that the workers hurrying to their jobs are very irritated by the delay.
On our side there are two inspection windows open, manned by guards – a man and a woman - dressed in black, with an iron-fisted attitude towards us.Their aim is “to show us who is the boss”, especially the woman, called Nehama, who rebukes us by ordering us to stand by the wall, and she gives an order to halt the queue until we obey her.
In the meantime, the people passing through report that the passage through the checkpoint is very slow and that there are about 1000 workers still waiting to pass. Time passes and the flow of people is very slow. The women also complain at the slowness, and we report to the humanitarian office about this.
In the meantime, several people complain to us about the unbearable slowness which recurs every Friday. We have already heard similar complaints for the last two months. The situation on Fridays is the worst of the whole week and its impossible to understand why.
7:30 am: Nehama announces “a halt to passage” as a punishment for our Behaviour. The soldiers at one of the windows are replaced and she jokes with the new ones. We telephone to the checkpoint commander inside, but he doesn’t show himself and says that he will check on the situation.
8:10 am: there is still a very large number of people waiting on the Bethlehem side of the checkpoint. They report on mothers with small children who have been waiting for over an hour