Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 29.6.08, Morning
07:00 AM Bethlehem Checkpoint: Today the situation is excellent. The people at the entrance tell us that by 06:45 AM 1900 people have already passed through the checkpoint. When we arrived, five inspection booths are operating and there is only a small number of people waiting at each of them.
In one of the inspection booths, the female soldier is speaking non-stop on her cellular phone. Earlier in the morning, one of the Ecumenical representatives approached her and asked if all her conversations were work-related, since it seemed to her that, on the contrary, she was using it for private purposes. Additionally, the queue in front of her booth was much longer and slower-moving than the one next to her, where there are also finger-print inspections. The female soldier’s commander arrived and told the Ecumenical representative that she’d throw her out of the checkpoint if she talked to any of the soldiers again.
A conversation takes place between us and the Ecumenical representative about this matter, which the soldier overhears, although nothing was said that was meant to hurt her feelings. At some stage, the soldier comes out of her booth and starts to shout that she has heard everything. Again, her commander arrives on the scene, together with 2 policemen and a security guard. An argument develops which it is impossible to listen to without laughing. One of the policemen, the replacement of the checkpoint commander, orders us to go outside, and because the checkpoint is by this time almost empty, we stand outside for another ten minutes, and leave the checkpoint after less than forty minutes.
Etzion DCL: The Checkpoint is full, as usual lately. Many people throng around each of us as soon as they get out of their cars, asking for help. 120 people are waiting to renew their magnetic cards.
An elderly man from Kfar Chadar tells us that a few days earlier, settlers with skull-caps and side-locks stole his horse that he uses to pull his cart for working his land. We refer him to the police representative in the DCL. Many GSS-denied men approach us for help, but we can’t help most of them, either because they can’t identify their Israeli employer, or because they are too young.
10:00 AM: We leave for home.