Bethlehem, Tue 15.4.08, Morning
06:15, Bethlehem CP. Another hellish morning. The crowding was terrible both sides. Five checking posts were open, and according to Palestinians, three turnstiles were functioning on the other side. In four out of the five booths (1, 3, 7, 9) soldiers were speaking on the phone almost non stop.
At 07:45, one soldier got up, and ignoring the people in the crowded line, collected her belongings and left the booth, locked it and disappeared in the office. The people in the line were stunned, not knowing what to do. It is forbidden to change lines, and more than once did we see security guards pushing rudely Palestinians who had dared to join a shorter line. So here they were, standing in front of the closed checking post, not knowing whether they should wait for a replacement or move to another line. Those who tried to join neighboring lines were met with resistance of the people who were already standing there. A soldier passed by, and we asked him whether the booth would reopen. No, it?s closed, he answered rudely. So why not inform the people in line? They see it?s closed, don?t they? was the answer.
So now, only four checking posts were functioning. At around 08:00 the DCO rep arrived. As usual, he did nothing. The new shift, he explained, hadn?t arrived, so it was not possible to reopen a fifth post. At least, we said, tell the soldiers not to speak on the phone. It?s not his task, he explained. At around this time, another soldier apparently finished his shift and left. The CP commander replaced him. Not surprisingly, now that those two were present, everyone were doing their work, no one was on the phone any more. The lines began to move more rapidly. The pressure on both sides lulled at around 08:30.