Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Tue 18.3.08, Morning

Ruth E., Aviva W., Rama Y. (reporting)

06:30, Bethlehem CP. Five checking posts were functioning. The lines were long and crowded, but people went through, and things were more or less orderly. And then, at around 07:00, one of the computers stopped functioning. Without a word of explanation (or apology), the post was closed, and the result was havoc, as people from this line tried to squeeze into the neighboring line. In a matter of seconds all order disappeared, and people were fighting desperately for their place in line. For some reason another checking post was closed, too, for 5-10 minutes, and things got almost out of control. The shouts of angry Palestine mingled with the bellowings of policemen and soldiers trying to force some calm and order.
Maybe because we had called the IDF Humanitarian center, maybe on his own initiative, the DCO rep. appeared all of a sudden, nice, smiling and very optimistic, drinking Cola. He approached us, asking what the problem was, as if the problem was ours, as if the terrible crowding, the shouts, the tension were not suggestive enough. And, of course, he went on saying that he himself has to stand in line now and again, so what is the big deal. Then he sat down on one of the decorative plant-less plant containers, that is used as a trash bin, drank his Cola and looked quite contented.
The computer was revived some 30 minutes later, and as by then the crowding was horrible a sixth checking post was open too (in spite of the chronic “lack of man power”). The pressure alleviated at 07:45, and around 08:00 the CP emptied both sides.