Bethlehem (300), Fri 22.6.12, Morning
Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300, 9:05-11:30 AM: at the start of our shift, very few people were crossing, only one station open. We can hear that many Palestinians are waiting on the other side, their passage very slow.
Suddenly an announcement that "lane #3 is open" and at once a large group arrives and a long line forms. Another lane is opened, but there are still many people. A woman crosses and comes up to us with a big smile. "There are many people there, I waited more than an hour and suddenly they opened another lane. Clearly it's due to you. Thank you!" I try to say we did nothing but she persists in thanking us.
A number of events in which children are prevented from crossing in the absence of permits. This issue continues despite all the arguments, appeals and promises of the last month.
[Perhaps the matter should be taken to the media and Knesset members, to apprise the public that a Palestinian requires a permit from the age of 5. Not that I harbour hopes that the public will care, but why not try?]
A woman on a visit asked for our help. She had permits for her older daughters, but not for the youngest (10). She was sure there would be no problem and was shocked to discover she wasn't allowed to cross and that we were unable to help.
A man of 45-50 with two children arrived. The soldier refused to let the younger child cross because he had no permit. The man persisted and raised his voice: "We live in Jerusalem, not Territories, I'm here for family reunion, my child is registered here in my ID, and the older one has a blue ID."
After more arguing and checking, the man and his two children crossed.
We intervened a few times in the course of our shift. The female soldier on duty was not as hostile as the ones a fortnight and a month ago, but she was very firm, and refused to discuss or update us, as promised, on the issue of permits for small children. "You're disturbing my work, you must not interfere. Do you think I'm preventing someone from crossing just on a whim? I know exactly what I'm doing."
Many continued to cross also after 11:00, a rarity.