Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 13.4.08, Morning

Sylvia P, Chana A (translating), Ofra B, Renana S (reporting)

6:45 Bethlehem Terminal: A strange early morning at the CP. Five windows open and a trickle of people at each one of them. The first impression is of a good morning, euphoria at the efficiency today. We should have known this could not be true. The commander of the terminal, who we asked why today was different from other days, answered that this is the way it always is...obviously he has a good sense of humor! Soon we were informed that the other side of the CP was crowded with workers waiting to cross. Even though three metal detectors were operating, the crossing was slow and people were reporting long waits, from 45 minutes to one hour and more. Where there were only few people at seven, the incoming crowds did not stop, as they should, even at 7:30 and later, making the workers late for work. When we asked the commander about this, he answered that 2500 people had already crossed this morning and that everything was going according to the rules; he reporting monitoring the cameras and seeing no crowding or pushing. On the Israeli side the soldiers were doing their work quickly, maybe because of the commander's presence today.
A security guard who had spilled some water on the floor was diligently wiping it up to prevent people from slipping and falling. We were touched and told him so and he answered in low tones "all I need is that someone gets injured slipping here."
We left at around 8:00 and went to Etsion DCL. There we met a couple of people who needed our advice. The staff inside, who will not talk to us, are certainly willing to send us "clients". When these seem to be clueless, the soldiers inside tell them to go to the "women outside who will help you." We left towards 10:00 back to Jerusalem.