Bethlehem, Fri 15.4.11, Morning
In brief: The Military Police fights with the children.
Bethlehem– Checkpoint 300: very many people crossing today, many of them with small children. Four booths open, the soldiers speak Arabic, asking the Palestinians to have their magnetic cards ready. Many don’t have them, of course, and make do with permits, but very much want to obtain a magnetic card: it simplifies “the job.”
The time comes when there’s no more line. A few minutes laters one of the female soldiers announces over the walkie-talkie: “You can let them through again!,” and once more many people come crowding around the booths. [This occurred three times during our shift: a new way of reducing congestion on the Israeli side!...] People go through relatively quickly, hundreds since we began our shift.
Suddenly a female MP arrives, and starts preventing children from going through. We heard frequently that a Palestinian with a work permit isn’t allowed to bring children along. But this is the first time we’ve seen such a thing when people are going to worship. It’s important to note: we’re talking about children whose parents have an original copy of the permit. But still the children are prevented from crossing.
We approach the female MP:
She replies: No one is allowed through without a permit.
-Also little children?
-Only in an emergency, or to go to the hospital.
We call the humanitarian office, which listens and transfers us to the DCO. They explain that the Civil Administration requires that every Palestinian who crosses must have a permit, beginning with those aged 0. The MP’s have the authority to prevent children from crossing if they don’t have a permit, if that’s what they want to do.
A few more children are turned away. The female MP won’t talk to us. She tells the soldier, “Don’t pay any attention to them.”
A Palestinian arrives with his little son. He explains that he must cross. The female MP decides to teach him a lesson and explains that he can go home, bring all the necessary documents back to the checkpoint, and he’ll still have enough time to do what he has to.
She’s standing the whole time holding a can of Coca-Cola, speaking arrogantly, aggressively, refusing to listen. We called the humanitarian office again to submit a complaint. They promised to look into it.