Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 27.2.11, Afternoon

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Nava D., Yael S., Daniela G. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Etzion DCL, 15:15 pm:  some 20 people in the waiting hall 2 of whom stop us at the entrance asking for our help to go through the turnstile ahead of the others. Both are seeking a permit. The woman shows us a letter saying that she is sick with cancer. The elderly man has a hospital appointment tomorrow. The soldier at the window is busy talking on the phone and heeds us not, but does answer the intercom at the back and lets those two in plus 2 older women. After a while during which nothing happens though we are told by someone coming out that there are only a few people inside, a second trip to the intercom leads to a promise that in 10-15 minutes everybody will be able to enter the office.

During the wait, a young man echoes are very thoughts: They should always let in everyone who came on time or else declare that the door to the waiting hall will be closed at a certain hour and only those arriving till then will be serviced. For how humiliating it is, he says, to stand patiently for hours huddled against the turnstiles with no one to turn to except us when we show up, and also to realize that we can succeed in doing what they can't.

The soldier is good for his word and indeed all of a sudden everybody – about 15 women and men - go through.

Bethlehem Checkpoint 300, 16:30 pm:   owing to Yael, a newcomer to MW, instead of timing passage from the outside, which is what we usually do these days, we went in to introduce her to the "terminal". And a good thing too, because we encountered a few changes: Not only are there no security guards in sight, but people are no longer required to swipe their magnetic card nor display their handprint! They just go through and it seems they are well aware of this new arrangement for no one bothers to fumble in their pockets for documents anymore. The only soldier in sight is reclined in his chair inside the sole operative booth and he only checks people entering Jerusalem but not those Bethlehem bound. Have the authorities finally come to their senses?