Morning

31/10/2002
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There was compete closureinfo-icon ("keter") at the Bethlehem checkpoint and no one wasallowed in or out, except for some ultra-religious Jews. A Swiss nurse who works in the children's clinic was not allowed in, and children were not allowed to cross to the Israeli side to get to school. A few people crossed the field opposite, and several cars and trucks were waiting. We tried to call the officials on our list, but we either did not manage to get through or did not get an answer to our queries. We went to the El Khader with a journalist and photographer. There were about 100-200 Palestinians trying to cross to the main road side, while a smaller groupof about 20 was trying to go to in the other direction. There were three soldierstrying to deal with all these people. The situation was chaotic but people were let through. At the same time, a lot of people slipped though on both sides of the road block.The soldiers were polite and tried to be helpful. We learned that there was a warning of a suicide bomber trying to get through and that was why the Bethlehem Road was closed. Our presence helped. When the soldiers said that the Palestinians were not allowed to pass through and we started to ring up Safadi, the soldier came back, apologized and said that we were right. He let people get to their homes and work, but not Bethlehem. From what we were told, Thursday mornings are always a major problem, and it would be good if we could have a team there. The photographer said he would send some of the photos he took by email - so that we can add them to our new web site.