Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Wed 23.1.08, Afternoon
Bethlehem, DCL Etzion
Bethlehem Checkpoint – empty
Two people who did not need assistance from MachsomWatch were in the waiting hall. A soldier was on duty at his window.
Two checking booths were open and there were about 30 people waiting in the large hangar like checkpoint. The soldier who was processing the Palestinians was efficient and polite, speaking in Hebrew and Arabic. The private security guard arrived about three minutes after we did.
It was a cold afternoon with a piercing icy wind, about 5-7 degrees C. When larger numbers of Palestinians arrived, only a few minutes after we had arrived, they had to wait outside the building, which they did in a quiet and orderly way, until the security guard ushered them in, about twenty at a time. Apparently, even when it is raining, they have to wait outside without any shelter.
There were now about 60 people waiting outside patiently in two lines until being ushered in. Ronit approached one of the soldiers in a checking booth and asked why more booths were not being opened. He said it was forbidden for her to talk to him.
Five booths were open and the Palestinians were passing through smoothly, and the waiting time once they were ushered into the building was about two to three minutes. The waiting time outside was about five minutes.
A few women, including one with a baby in a sling, were given priority both by the waiting Palestinians and by the soldiers at the booths.
There was a man in civilian clothes who, from his contacts with the private security guards, appeared to be their supervisor.
No one was waiting outside, and people were passing through the checking booths smoothly.
One of the soldiers in the booths began to sing which amused some of the people waiting.
We left. The Occupation was working routinely in Bethlehem