Bethlehem (300), Sun 22.9.13, Morning
Bethlehem Checkpoint 22 September, 2013
06:50 - We arrive on the Israeli side of the Bethlehem Checkpoint.
Today is relatively quiet and the people we meet outside tell us that it’s calm and there are fewer people - because of Sukkot Holiday since some of the Jewish employers do not work. Sylvia remarks that for the first time in years there is no curfew during the holidays. In the hall four windows are operating. In one of them the woman-soldier passes people quickly without using a computer, just briefly examining their permits. The hall is full but the passage is flowing smoothly with no problems. As usual people approach Sylvia about permits for family and friends, some are already in the process and want to know the state of their appeal, others finding out what is required to apply for lifting of restrictions.
07:10 – the hall is almost empty. The kid Y. who had a kidney transplant arrives with his mother who greets us warmly. Y. seems happy and in a good mood, he high-fives Sylvia. Some of the soldiers in the windows are switching posts and now in window 2 next to us, the woman-soldier stands outside and lets those over 40 with permits pass without checking the computer. She just glances at the permits. Those who look too young are required to show an ID
07:20 – a man arrives whose permit was canceled recently. He says that his employer told him that he had issued a new permit for him and indeed he passed on Wednesday (holiday’s Eve) to work and on Fridayhe passed with his children to pray. The soldier does not allow him to pass without a permit. Sylvia approaches him, while the security guard also asks us to help him. Sylvia calls DCO to find out whether, the man is restricted. His employer has to take care of a permit for him. The man insists that the employer issued him one and asks to go inside and find out with the policemen what happened. Meanwhile the hall empties completely. Women-soldiers arrive from the other side of the checkpoint, apparently there’s no pressure there either. They are going to eat.
07:30 – another group of people arrive from the Palestinian side. Policemen M. arrives and talks to the man, explaining that he can’t let him pass without a permit. The guy gives up and leaves.
07:40 – the hall is empty. Occasionally we can still hear calls on the loudspeaker on the Palestinian side and a trickle of people still arrive. Only one window is now open and it’s enough since only few are passing. A cleaner is busy cleaning the place. Later we saw another cleaner on his way to the parking lot, but the wind tampered with his efforts to collect the garbage.