Bethlehem, יום ו' 14.9.07, בוקר

Ora A., ronit B., Yael S. (reporting), guest observer
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Gilo Terminal (Bethlehem)

The first Friday of the month of Ramadan.

Special assessments by the Civilian Administration, the Military and the Israeli Police are translated into regulations at the checkpoint. There seems to be a lack of coordination.

Age Restrcitions:Despite an announcement by the Civilian Administration about men over 55 and women over 45 being able to get through, in reality up to 11:00 am only people over the age of 60 are allowed to pass, and only if they aren’t GSS restricted. We encounter two cases of people who are the appropriate age  but who are GSS restricted and are not allowed to enter Jerusalem. After 11:00 the order is changed and both men and women above the age of 50 are allowed in without a permit. 

The number of people getting through: we did not count the number of the people getting through. I estimate that about 1,000 people got through between 9:00 am and 11:30 am. When we arrive there are four open checking booths. When we leave there are only three. 

Commanding officers were present, which greatly influenced the conduct of the soldiers.  

The guest who is accompanying us takes pictures of the checkpoint. A sergeant first class decides to throw us and the two U.N representatives out of  the checkpoint. We have to stay away for an hour and return to the compound later.  

There is a shift change of the border police while we are there. A considerate border policeman who tries to help in humanitarian cases is replaced with two other ones – one is smoking a cigarette and one is eating a popsicle. They call out to the Palestinians: “We will show you who’s in charge” and “Move it! Move it!” They are unbelievably rude to the Palestinians who were not allowed in for one reason or the other (there are maybe two). In short they act like masters. 

Roni, who is in the area, fixes things very quickly and has an officer come down and order the soldiers not to eat or smoke in front of the Muslim people.  

During our drive we come through Hebron road and are not permitted to drive through the Cinematic – the roads are closed in order to prevent confrontation between Jews and Muslims.  

All this time we hear from the Ecumenical Accompaniers that about 150-300 people  are waiting patiently on the Palestinian side.  

Happy Ramadan and happy holidays.