Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Fri 14.12.07, Morning
9:00am – a very cold day, especially in this area. Two booths are open. The lines are not long and are moving quickly on this side of the checkpoint. Inside the checkpoint it is very cold as well. From the other side of the check point shouts are heard “you… you… come here…” men are exiting humiliated with their belt in their hand.
A Chinese tourist arrives from the direction of Bethlehem, turns around confused, not sure whether he is at the right place.
A 65 year old woman from Bethlehem asks permission to pass through for prayer. She was told by the Palestinian DCL that she does not need a permit at her age to pass. The soldier at the booth does not know how to talk to her and explain the situation. He acts with disrespect and impatience.
Two guards employed by a private security company are walking around; one is eating sunflower seeds as he wanders around the entrance. Two soldiers, a woman and a man, are busy opening the blast cell.
This morning there are several fathers arriving with there children under the age of 16. They are denied entry because they only have work permits; these do not include praying or any other business. Apparently the permits are given to the employers and not to the employees themselves.
Around 10:00 am the check point becomes busy for a Friday and the lines lengthen in both directions. Though we call the humanitarian center, no more posts are opened. Shouts can be heard again. The female soldier - her job is to check people and let them pass - is doing so while talking on her cell phone. She punishes a man probably for not waiting patiently, and he has to step aside for several minutes. She refuses to talk with us.
10:30am – a woman is waiting for a permit to go to Haifa for a day. She is thrilled the permit is until 10 pm. She has been waiting for this permit for over a month.