Bethlehem

Jun-19-2003
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06:30 -- A constant stream of
pedestrians coming from Checkpoint 300. No presence at all of
border policemen in and around Tantur.

Etzion: En route we saw the once flourishing factories and
enterprises of the Palestinians empty and partly demolished. At the
Etzion Checkpoint all pedestrians could pass in both directions
after having their papers checked. Between the soldier, leaning on
a waist-high concrete slab and the person presenting documents lies
coiled barbed wire, so the Palestinians have to bend over it to
avoid scratches. The soldiers were polite and sometimes even
friendly. No bus or van was allowed to continue from or to Hebron,
so everyone had to get out and find other means of transportation
beyond the checkpoint El Khadr: The passage was extremely crowded.
The taxi-drivers again complained about the situation in Wadi Nar,
where no one can pass. On the other side of the highway we saw a
number of buses which had been there all night, because they could
not return to Hebron. During the night between Monday and Tuesday
last week, we were told, hooligans from Kiryat Arba had attacked 12
(or 14, or 17 - the stories differed somewhat) of them. They
smashed windows and even entered the house (and trashed its
contents) of one of the drivers. "Didn't you read about it? It
must have been in the papers. The army doesn't do this kind of
thing, only the settlers". One very new bus had been almost
totally wrecked. A complaint had been made at the Police Station in
Etzion. Checkpoint 300: An Israeli tourist bus returning from
Bethlehem with a busload of tourists passed without having to get
off and board another bus beyond the checkpoint, like last time we
saw tourists there. A Palestinian was being questioned in the
caravan, and later taken out in shackles. Outside was a taxi driver
(with Israeli papers), who said that this passenger had told him he
was in possession of valid papers. The driver was then also kept
for questioning.