Bethlehem (300), Fri 29.6.12, Morning

claire Oren (reporting)

Bethlehem Checkpoint 300:

Summary : Children are targetted ; people are “streamed” according to the convenience of the Israeli side ; there is distinct hostility towards MachsomWatch.

Palestinians report that there is a huge number of people still waiting on the Palestinian side. On the Israeli side, three inspection-stations are open. When a large queue builds-up, a message is sent to the other side to stop the stream of people.

There are a number of cases of children trying to sneak-through. The female soldier in inspection station number 2 screams at them and asks the security guard to pay attention to the last turnstile.

Many children are turned back today. A family of parents with a small girl aged 3 and two brothers aged 7 and 10 arrives. The female soldier shouts and sends them all back. I approach in order to find out why they have all been turned back. The soldier refuses to talk to me and the security-guard instructs everyone to stop passing Palestinians through the checkpoint until I return to the wall. I make phone-calls to the humanitarian center to complain about this method, and about the shouting, and again about the episodes of the children.

In the meantime the family waits and the soldier whom I had asked why the little girl is not allowed through, checks and passes her through with her mother, while the father and the two boys are forced to return home. The mother and her daughter march off in the direction of Jerusalem. Suddenly they turn back and the mother calls to the father and gives him the house-keys.

A grandmother arrives, together with her daughter and grand-daughter aged 4, all of them happy and cheerful. The little girl passes under the turnstile and stands there waiting for her mother and grandmother.The female soldier shouts at the the girl and accuses the young mother “why are you laughing ?”. The mother smiles a bewildered smile and explains that they are on their way to an outing. and explains that they are on their way to an outing. The grandmother tries to intervene and spreads-out all the permits on the inspection-station window. There is a lot of tension, but eventually there is no reason found to prevent them passing and they go on their way.

A father with three children arrives, and at first doesn’t believe that he cannot pass, he tries to argue but nothing helps.