Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 2.3.08, Morning
7:00 Bethlehem: The crossing is full of people. We assume today will be worse than ever, but it doesn't look that way. The Palestinians, certain that today the West Bank would be under closure after the weekend events in Gaza, are surprised to see that the crossing is open as usual. This softens the blow of the fact that only two entrances were opened on the Bethlehem side and the crossing is very slow. On the Israeli side five windows were opened giving the illusion that things went smoothly, but at a critical time one of the windows was closed leaving the line orphaned. People started pushing and running to the other lines. Havoc was created.
When Sylvia walked over to the dividing line between the Palestinian/Israeli sides, a soldier in the guard booth started screaming to his colleague: Throw her out of there! The guard on the top gallery shouted at her to get away from the line, but after a few minutes of totally ignoring their threats, they got tired of the game and went back to their proper jobs.
A group of Italians watched the unfolding events from their vantage point on the Israeli side. They are members of a group called PAX CHRISTI, a Catholic group for peace. It took them an hour and quarter to cross over (if they had come earlier it would have taken even longer).
When we got to the DCL at Etsion it had become overcast and colder. In the waiting room it was only slighter warmer than outside. We asked if the heat could be turned on, but were told that it was not possible. We tried to help a young Palestinian who came to pick up his new permit without his employer, who could not come. Two settlers were waiting to go in at the turnstile behind the main hall. What a hutzpa, said one of them, we have to wait because they let in the Arabs ahead of us! At Beth El I go in all the way to headquarters. The IDF functions like the Histadrut. The other settler answers him: That's why I can't get anything done. Tell me, he says, turning to me, while I am trying to help a young Palestinian, don't they break into our cars here?