Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL, Fri 20.7.12, Morning
Bethlehem area, Etzion DCL
First Friday of Ramadan, 09:30-11:30
For some reason, the parking area is blocked. Many police officers and higher ranks are located at and around the checkpoint. The police set up a temporary barrier on the road from Jerusalem, just beyond the traffic light before the checkpoint, blocking one lane. They inspected who was coming through, and why.
Three positions open, people cross quickly, those old enough (40 and up) have only to show an ID card; those 35-40 need a permit; children 12 or under may cross.
People are sometimes asked to place a finger on the new device. It usually works, but one person was asked to place his finger again and again. He went through all the fingers of his right hand; only when he switched to his left hand did the device respond.
We have the impression after the first day of Ramadan that, like last year, they were organized to allow many people to cross here without waiting. At one point they opened the third fenced corridor on the Bethlehem side, which eased the crossing.
But, of course, you have to remember that every Palestinian aged 13-34 is forbidden to pray in the plaza before the mosques on the Haram al Sharif in Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan. That doesn’t keep the state from boasting that it guarantees freedom of worship.
And, as always, the bureaucracy makes your blood boil, but we’re helpless: five men arrived during our shift, all aged 39 – one will be 40 next month - without permits. No entreaties helped, of course; they were forced to return home.
We popped over to Etzion during our shift, to have a Palestinian sign a power of attorney and other documents so he can be removed from the blacklist. He had worked in Israel for 20 years, and one morning found himself blacklisted.
Chana B. came to the Israeli side at the end of our shift. She said very few people were left on the other side, and that large misting fans had been installed that cooled the air (and the atmosphere).