Bethlehem, Thu 27.3.08, Afternoon
5:40- We arrived after spending a lot of time in traffic. The checkpoint was empty but in front of it we could notice 4 military police jeeps and by them were two groups of Palestinian, 14 people facing the wall. About 20 meters closer to the checkpoint was the other group (20 people) sitting on the ground. We approached them in purpose to find up what had happened, the policemen told us they would speak to us later. The cap filled in a detainee form for each one of them, and then they called them one by one and told them to sign it.
Among the smaller group of detainees were an elder man and three women. They tried talking to us in Arabic, but the policeman released them just before anyone came to translate them for us, the women thanked us and quickly headed on the Bethlehem CP.
It was cold. I had a coat, a long sleeve shirt on, a sweater and fleece, but I was still shivering. Some of the detained people had just a short sleeved shirt, but non of them had a coat on.
We spoke to a Palestinian that said that some of them had been detained for five hours, without water (earlier it was much hotter). We called Hana Barag who called the humanitarian center. We found out that as we thought they were all caught in Israel without permits and since they had already signed a form they were to be released soon.
The policemen were still unable to talk to us and wouldn't allow us to speak to the Palestinians while they were being detained.
There was also an Israeli Palestinian who had a blue ID, and his 10 year old son, who was shivering from the cold. When we asked the policemen why he was detained they said they had been caught "passing things under the fence". The man told us that he only came to pick up some money that someone owed him. The civil police man that was sent for him dismissed him.
When the military policemen found the time to talk to us, they said these people were caught in Israel without a permit, they had been detained since 4:30 and would be released in an hour or an hour and a half.
We left at 6:30, exhausted and shivering from the cold, but not before we gave those two groups out number so that they could let us know when they are released. One of the policemen promised us they would receive water and food.
A little bit after 8 o'clock one of them called Dafna. He said they hadn't been released, nor did they get any food or water, after we left they were forbidden from going to the toilet and one of them was bitten by the BP soldiers. He sounded desperate, frightened, and helpless.
Dafna called the Humanitarian Center and I called Hana who lives near by and decided to head to the checkpoint. I informed the man that called us that one of us was on her way. He didn't stop thanking me. At about 8:20, a couple of minutes after Hana arrived, they were released.