Bethlehem (300), Fri 26.10.12, Morning

Claire Oren (reporting)


8:45 - 10:15

Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300:

both the police and the army forces are present. The way to Bethlehem is completely blocked. A short argument with the police commander makes it clear to me that I won’t be able to enter in my car. The reason for the blockage : “

celebrations of our (biblical) mother Rachel at her tomb”. Also the Jewish celebrators are travelling to Rachel’s tomb by special buses and not in private cars.

I park my car near to Mr Elias’ (shop) and go to the checkpoint on foot.

There isn’t a living soul there, and no cars waiting for people to come out. I thought that precisely because of the Al-Adcha (Arab festival) there would be many Palestinians taking advantage of the festival to enjoy themselves in Jerusalem. Perhaps they know that everything here is closed and they would have to walk too far.

A soldier at the checkpoint tells me that passage through it was already closed yesterday. Two inspection stations are open, most of the time with no activity. Only a few people go through.

A Palestinian from Hebron arrives with three children, aged 4, 9, and 11. On the occasion of the festival he wants to visit their mother and their brother who are in hospital. He tells me that at the civilian admnistration office in Hebron he was told that the children don’t need permits. However, here they are not allowed to pass. The soldier in the inspection station tries to ask his officer whether the children can be taken across but the answer is negative.

Without much hope I ask for the civilian Administration Representaitve to be called for. He arrives but says that there is no possibility to allow a child above 5 years old to pass without a permit. Moreover, he is from the Bethlehem office and he has no authority over people from Hebron.

So, because of the bureaucracy and these infuriating rules, the children’s mother stays alone in hospital during the festival.