Bethlehem, Fri 19.9.08, Morning

Efrat B., Clair A. (reporting)
 09:00 AM, Bethlehem Checkpoint:  As usual from the start of Ramadam, a crowd enters the buses and other vehicles, and gathers on the pavement, between the wall and the police fences.


      A man with a magnetic card, and with a registered certificate for his sonis not allowed to pass. He explains that he was on the GSS-denied list and that Sylvia dealt with his case. He received a magnetic card valid until 2012. The soldier in the position tells him that he is again on the GSS-denied list, and after a telephoned consultation gives him an order to appear at 11.00 at the checkpoint (Rachel's crossing), to be questioned by captain Uri.

09.45 A worried mother, who passed through the womens' passageway is waiting for her ten year old son who doesn't have a mobile phone and who has his registration certificate with him. The mother explains that because of the terrible crowding in the womens' line she told her son to go through with the men. She is now sorry she did this and is waiting anxiously. However, almost without any intervention by us, the soldiers in the position allow her to pass over to the Palestinian side to search for her son. We didn't see her come out but she probably went around with her son through the vehicle lane.

The ecumenical volunteer tells us that 2000 men passed through the checkpoint between the hours of 08.00 to 10.00, and if those who passed through earlier and the women who went around through the vehicle lane are added to this number, it seems likely that the total is at least 6000.

10.15 A 48 year old man arrives from Hebron, who tells us that this is the first time that he has come here and he very much wants to pray. He didn't know about the 50 year old limitation. He implores the soldier in the position to let him through but the latter explains to him that he cannot contravene the orders he has received, and that many others like him have been turned back.

       11.00 The flow of people slackens and soon the other side will be closed.

While the Machsomwatch observer A was standing at the end of the checkpoint near the rear door that was closed, the door was suddenly opened and the policeman brought in a (female) Peace-Now activist, who is the coordinator of the settler-tracking activity. The policeman tells her that she is being detained because she photographed people in the queue against a background of a military installation. A contacts the Peace-Now office and reports the incident to them. Later, a Peace-Now activist phones A and thanks her for the report. The soldier demanded that the photographs that were taken should be cleared from the camerainfo-icon memory.. She was freed but without the photographs.

Update from Pat : Nearly 4000 people passed through the checkpoint today. About 8000 passed through the Bethlehem checkpoint last Friday