Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL, Sun 22.7.12, Morning
Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300:
05:45 AM: Sylvia receives a phone call from one of the ecumenical volunteers. He reports pandemonium at the checkpoint, rioting, blows, congestion – the checkpoint has been closed, laborers can’t cross.
07:00AM When we arrive, the entire checkpoint area is filled with cars, buses, pickup trucks – evidence that many of the laborers still haven’t crossed, nor have they been transported in various ways to their jobs.
A sea of people run out of the entrance to the checkpoint. It’s difficult to get through. Later we learned that, despite the congestion, the army was allowing a certain number of people to cross without inspecting permits, and the pressure eased.
This was the second time that this occurred. During the hour until 08:00, it happened three more times. Five times this morning large groups went through without being inspected. In the interims, people were inspected as usual. If it’s possible to operate like this today, why not every day? Why the humiliating games called “standard crossing procedure”? Again, after the fact, we learned, according to one version, that there was a serious breakdown in the administration of the crossing at the entrance to Bethlehem. Arguments, blows, damage to one of the entrance installations. Two people were injured and entry was stopped in order to allow the medic to treat them safely. That’s what someone told us.
08:00 AM. The waiting room is supposed to open at 08:00, at which time the offices are supposed to begin working: issuing and renewing magnetic cards, handling urgent applications for entry permits to Israel for various reasons and receiving applications from people who want to be removed from the entry blacklist. An Arabic sign posted on the door also announces the time of opening.
The door opened at 08:45, after a phone call in which we were told that the window within was open, but not manned. And when they finally began working, only one of the three windows was manned.
About 45 people in the waiting room; additional people continue to arrive. It took us three more phone calls before they began admitting them. Those admitted, by the way, will continue to wait in the inner waiting room, where only one window is manned. We spoke by phone to one of those waiting within; he told us that the offices began working normally only at 11:00.