Bethlehem (300)

Clair Oren, Translation: Naomi Gal


09:10 to 11:00

For most of my shift only 2 windows are open, and worse - on the Palestinian side only one passage is open and many Palestinians complain that it is not enough and that passage is slow. The security guard occasionally asks his colleague on the Palestinian side to slow down, as on the Israeli side a long line is formed. Instead of opening another passage there and here more windows, they further slow the passage! Of course, the usual explanation is related to manpower shortage.

An interesting conversation ensues with the security guard who overcomes the discomfort that we are celebrating our Freedom Holyday while preventing the freedom of another people, so that actually we are the occupied.

A nice Ecumenical volunteer reports a long line on the Palestinian side and that two were not allowed to pass.

An elderly woman is informed that she is prevented from entering Israel. The senior policeman, who usually is ready to check, use commonsense and solve problems, is overcome with impatience with her screams and sends her back. Could it be that she tried her luck in a different window and passed? Perhaps due to lack of coordination between computers? Or is it my daydream?

Finally the top cop arranged for them to open another passage on Bethlehem’s side and all of a sudden there is enough manpower to open two more windows on this side of the checkpoint. The security guard is enthusiastic, remarks something to a slow woman-soldier and she warns him not to mess with her. A celebration! Many Palestinians, children, women and men, pass quickly after a checking that is remarkably shorter - so it seems. Is all this happening because they have to pass the promised quota and it’s getting closer to 11:00?