Bethlehem, Tue 5.2.08, Morning
06:30, Bethlehem CP. The regular hell, typical of this CP. People reported that the previous day was as bad, also in the afternoon, when they were returning home.
The crowding at the other side, they said, was horrible. A young man, holding a baby in his arms, was standing inside the CP, at the entrance area. It was clear that he was waiting for the mother to come out. The guardians told him to step outside, into the cold. This time, though, some good sense prevailed, and he was permitted to wait inside. In fact, he was not related to the baby at all – the mother was not able to advance to the head of the line on the Palestinian side because of the crowding, the baby was transferred from hand to hand, and finished with this stranger. It took the mother no less than fifty minutes to join her baby.
If this terrible CP has to be there at all, at least a humanitarian line should be opened on the Palestinian side, so that babies, children, women, the sick and the elderly will not be crushed in the crowding. Also, women keep complaining about harassments.
Another man holding a sick baby and accompanied by his eleven-year-old daughter asked the guardians to open the revolving bar and let him through without having to stand in line. He presented the daughter’s birth certificate proving her age, but no -- he could go through with the baby, not the girl. He was concerned about her, not sure whether she could find her way back home, but nothing doing, she had to go back on her own.
One work permit was confiscated, no reason given, as usual. It was still valid for this day; the owner had a new one, valid for the morrow. A work day lost. Two more men were not allowed through as their palm prints were not identified by the computer.
At around 07:30, a volunteer of the Ecumenical Organization estimated that there were still about six hundred people waiting on the other side. He had made the round once more, and it took him over an hour to reemerge at our side. Two of the three magnetic gates at the Palestinian side were functioning, he reported, then one only. At a certain stage all three were closed for ten minutes, probably to alleviate the pressure on the Israeli side.
At around 08:00, school children began to come out – they too were going to be late to school. At 08:30 there were still about one hundred people waiting on the other side in two lines.
It is clear that Bethlehem checkpoint is not built to deal with thousands of persons rushing to work.