Bethlehem, Fri 6.6.08, Morning
Bethlehem Checkpoint Summary: After a very long and frustrating time- we finally had a more relaxed shift: The soldiers were more "humane" and Humanitarian Center responded to our two requests from them. The horror can be less terrifying.
One post was manned by a female soldier. She wasn't very friendly towards us when we arrived ("who areyou? By what right are you standing here? You aren't allowed to be here!") but she did her "job" quietly, without yelling and without disciplining those passing. She demanded that everyone place their hand in the machine and let them pass.
A young woman, who worked for the organization "Seeds for Peace", arrived from Jerusalem. She was waiting for some teenagers from Hebron that were supposed to go to the American consulate and they were running late. The kids, on the other side, called her to say that the soldiers wouldn't let them pass. She approached the lady soldier at the post but she refused to help her. We gave her the number of the Humanitarian Center. The soldier called us to rebuke us: "Such nerve! I was talking to her and then you came along and gave her phone numbers!"
Two soldiers came out and the woman went towards them after having called the Center. She explained to then that there were some kids on the other side that were supposed to take part in an activity in Jerusalem. They had a Kushan, a permit and a passport. The soldiers called the other side and after searching for several minutes they decided to let the woman pass to the other side and they escorted here there. After fifteen minutes she came back with four teenagers.
We heard a soldier at the other side yelling loudly. "Erja Laraa!!", Wahad, Wahad", shouting all the time. We called the Center and after a while it seemed that the yelling had subsided.
There was a long line of Palestinians waiting to pass. The whole ritual in which they have to place their hand on the machine made the process go very slow. We made another call to the Center asking that they open another booth. After several minutes another soldier came out and opened a booth.