Bethlehem, Fri 8.8.08, Morning

Efrat B., Lea A. (Reporting)

9:00 AM,  Bethlehem Checkpoint: There was much more traffic then usual on a Friday. Two posts were open, this time they were the ones inside, that is posts that don't have the machine that inspects hand prints, and indeed that passage was quicker. Many adults passed (like last week), and also a group of tourists.  We witnessed the same events as last week. On this side of the checkpoint two posts were open, the passage was quick and the line short, on the surface it would seem there was no pressure, but we could hear shouting from the other side. Someone told us there were 70 people waiting. Another said it took him over an hour to pass and that there were 100 people on the other side with only two open posts. The noise only grew louder as time passed. In contrast to last week there was minimal presence of security guards on our side of the checkpoint. Those who passed or were waiting for their relatives and friends at the entrance to the building weren't hassled.

9:15 AM:  For a few minutes we couldn't get hold of the 'Moked' and tell them about the pressure. Only after a short while we did get hold of them and the soldier promised to check into it. We tried calling again after 20 minutes. Once again there was no answer and it seemed that the situation was the same.

10:00 AM:  By the time we called the 'Moked' again we noticed the majority of the people passed. The 'Moked' said there were only 30 people left and the reason they were detained was their age. Part of those who passed gave us different figures but in any case it was evident that the pressure was reduced.