Beit Yatir

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6 Hannah A., Goni Z. (reporting), Translation: Naomi Gal

Bethlehem Checkpoint 



06.30 A wintery morning unusually quiet at the checkpoint. Not a lot of people but the 8 windows of the checkpoint are staffed and open at this time. It is unclear why the big change, but we gathered from the people that it has been that way for most of the week.

07.00 Change of shift of military police soldiers at the checkpoint’s windows.

A man who passed the checking says that they won’t let his friend pass, although he has a permit. Hannah goes to the gate and talks to that friend and gives him Sylvia’s phone number, to find out. It may well be that he is “Interrogation restricted" as many are lately, people who have permits but still are being harassed and detained every morning and are finally allowed to pass.

07:10 More people arrive in waves to the passage hall. Today the passage is quiet and efficient.  Perhaps the secret to the relaxed atmosphere lies in the visit of a Danish Parliament delegation that came this morning to observe the passage arrangements at the checkpoint. We meet again the new ecumenical delegation (EAPPI) from Norway and Ireland.

07.20. A young mother is holding a letter from Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital inviting her 11-year-old daughter for  treatment at the Haematology Department this morning. The girl had already passed with her grandfather but the stipulation of the physician for treatment is that the mother, too, be by her side. Hannah tries to help but the letter is riddled with errors (date and name do not match). We turned to Hannah B. and Yael S. but it did not help. Hannah A. called Bethlehem DCL and they referred the worried mother to Hebron DCL, and promised that they would deal with the request in a friendly manner and probably allow her to pass. It seems to us that a little good will and consideration and with the help of a telephone, computer or fax at Bethlehem DCL they could have saved the anxious mother the running around - going now to Hebron and then coming back to the checkpoint, it will take hours and in the meantime the sick daughter and the grandfather are waiting! Maybe we have exaggerated expectations...

07.30 Many of the people passing greet us with peace and Happy Holiday. The atmosphere is quite relaxed ... Finally we get a stinking request, literally – an angry young man asks: 'Do something because the situation is intolerable’- on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint, there are no bathrooms! Four months ago they announced they are closing for renovations and since then they are closed. Men and women are standing for hours, without minimal sanitary accommodations.  “It's inhuman”, he says, rightly so. We promise to inform the Public Complaints officer and to follow up the handling of this inconsiderate oversight.

07.40 We leave the checkpoint.

For personal reasons (happy) we could not get today to Etzion DCL, as we usually do.