Bethlehem, Fri 5.8.11, Morning
First Friday of Ramadan
Bethlehem– Checkpoint 300 (the Israeli side): very many crossing: the men, inside the checkpoint as usual (3 stations open to begin with, then 4 and 5); women cross around to the passage for vehicles.
An international activist was on the Palestinian side earlier, and reports that the entire crossing takes no more than 15 minutes for the men, even less for the women.
According to earlier reports (and that indeed was how the stationed soldiers performed): men over 50 and women over 45 may cross without permits, as well as children up to the age of 12. All the rest require permits.
In the case of one fairly young man with a permit, the computer screen was red and the female soldier informs him that he is forbidden to cross.
Most of the time human traffic streams and the behaviour of the soldiers is exemplary. Towards the end of the shift, the female soldier in station 2 starts to yell at the Palestinians to move back and cross "one by one".
General impression: this year proper preparations were made for Ramadan. Let us hope that for the rest of the month, and thereafter, people will be able to cross rapidly...