Bethlehem, Mon 11.2.08, Morning
We arrived at the checkpoint at 5:10, the checkpoint had opened only a couple of minutes before. From behind the walls at the end of the checkpoint, the area which is out of our reach, arrived the hard working workers, their coats were in their hands, their belts unbuckled or sometimes not even on their trousers, shoes in their hands or on their feet without being tied. In the narrative of the "the fabric of life" and " humanity" these phenomenons aren't mentions! While running to the inspection post, they got dressed- at least as well as they could- all the time hoping that their ride to work won't "head off" in the mean while.
Five inspection posts were manned. One put your magnetic card in the slot, put the Tasrih against the window, there are two posts for in which fingerprints are taken, and then it's all over. The soldier in post number and the soldier in number 5 were talking on the phone with each other eve since we arrived and until we left at 7:45. During the whole period we didn't see a checkpoint commander and couldn't complain against this ugly habit.
From the Palestinian side we heard loud yelling and growling of the megaphones.
Some questions arise: at the internet site of the ministry of defense it is written that the Bethlehem checkpoint is open 24 hours- and this is true for tourists, foreign citizens and Palestinians with blue IDs from Bethlehem, the checkpoint is in fact open for them 24 hours. But this is not true of the workers- they have permits that enable them to pass only during certain hours of the day, from 5:00 to 19:00, there for the fact that the checkpoint is open during all hours of the day is nothing more then a bad joke when it concerns them.
We were impressed but couldn't verify this assumption as the employers of the privet company (Ari) made sure that the lines in the building won't be to long. Therefore they allowed only several numbers each time to enter the building- one group after the other. There was a time when these passage monstrosities were still in blue prints when we heard that "hundred of thousands" of people would pass there everyday, and that the building would be designed to insure that. One turnstile- a nerve racking line that force about 300 people to go through the daily humiliating procedure and waist at least one hour of there day at that horrible passage. The reality is of course different- only those few that the bureaucracy of occupation allow can pass, the rest remain in there homes without a living. The Palestinian night is very short- the workers arrive at the checkpoint before sun rise, otherwise they don't stand a chance to pass and reach work on time- work which might be for them today, but tomorrow…
The weatherman predicts there will be rain in the next couple of day, those crowded at the checkpoint will of course get soaked since there is nothing to protect them from the rain and they are not allowed to enter the waiting hall.
This is the "enlightened and humane" occupation.