Bethlehem, Thu 29.5.08, Morning
6:00 AM, Bethlehem Checkpoint: This was a terrible day. There are only 4 boots open when we arrived at 6:00 which caused a lot of crowding, pressure, shouting, etc. The people in charge have two "solutions" for this kind of situation:
1. To close the Palestinian side, in order to avoid the crowding on the other side, so that in fact, the Palestinian side was closed from 6:15 to 7:15.
2. To implement an education workshop and close part of the boots as punishment when the Palestinians do not behave – i.e. stand in an orderly line and do not move back when ordered to do so ( which for sure is impossible when you have at least 50 people pushing behind you).
This collective punishment was at first the initiative of the Private Security, some of them real rude and brutal. Afterwards, also a soldier, named Yoav on boot 3, decided to take this initiative: the picture is impossible to look at: dozens of people, mostly on their 40's stand waiting, with a desperate and impotent look on their faces, while Yoav talks over the phone with a smile on his face.
We had no camera and asked from one of the Ecumenics to photograph. As expected, this resulted in a tumult, since it is prohibited to photograph (is it true?) One of the guards wanted to take us out of the place, but we refused. Then, the official from the police who is in charge came to tell us that it is forbidden to photograph. Nevertheless, after 5 minutes, and in spite of his telling us that he has no manpower available, another boot opened.
A Palestinian, showed to us a wound caused by a guard's kick. We asked one of the guards who seemed to be in charge to call the police officer, but as expected, he was not available. It seems that kicking a Palestinian is not as important as taking a picture.
When we left at 7:30 there was still a crowd waiting to pass.