Bethlehem, Tue 12.8.08, Morning
For a while now, we have been getting urgent phone calls in the early hours of the morning on a daily basis from CP 300 (Bethlehem). Approximately 3,000 workers pass through the checkpoint every day. It has been privatized and is run by the “Ari” company. It is owned by Yehuda Biton and is run by Eitan Levi, a former IDF officer. Their office is located in Jerusalem and the phone number is 02-6520590.
04:55-07:45 AM, Bethlehem Checkpoint: There are many different organization involved in the running of the checkpoint, therefore there is no one body to which to complain to about the general disarray that prevails at the checkpoint. Apart for the policemen, nobody wears name tags and so it is impossible to complain about specific people. Ari’s “gorillas” are especially rude and aggressive and you can read more about that in our other reports. Whenever we request of them some sort of identification to confirm their claim that they enjoy the same status as policemen, they show us (after much debate) a simple plastic card that just says that they are employed by the Ari company. They’re claim of certain authorities is of course false. Ari has not responded to any of our many letters. The Minister of Internal Security (to whom we were deferred by the Deputy Defense Minister, whom refused to take any responsibility to the matter) referred us to his spokesperson, which is synonymous to telling us to go to hell. We did not give up and kept on complaining to all the different sources. After giving up on all the rest, we began corresponding with Betzalel Triber, who is in charge of “International Border Crossings”, and urged him to turn the checkpoint into more humane, but he never even answered us.
5 AM: Today, we got a call from a Palestinian man who was begging for help at relieving the pressure at the checkpoint. We waited for a bit because sometimes the situation gets better after a while. We were wrong. Eventually we started making phone calls. In our stupidity we waited until 6:30. We should have started at 5 AM.
The humanitarian center answered in a very polite an honestly helpful way that a convoy of VIP’s is supposed to come through and therefore everything is closed. We did not believe this. How many VIP’s get up at 5 am and pass through the Bethlehem checkpoint. We told them that this excuse did not seem truthful. Eventually they came up with a better excuse. The platoon that is manning the checkpoint was called away for other duty and therefore there was a mess. And what excuse did they use yesterday? And the day before?
We called everyone we called and also wrote a letter.
07:45 AM: The man called us again and told us that things started moving again. What is certain is that they will not get to work on time today.
We hope they have a good day.