Bethlehem, Mon 10.11.08, Morning
5:30 AM, Bethlehem: we parked the car and we passed through the food market that was opened alongside the route towards the checkpoint in the direction of the opening in the wall. Workers, on their way to the line, stop and buy their lunch, cans, yoghurt, pitoth (flat-bread). In the line itself men, some sitting, some standing, waiting for the opening of the gate. The first arrive already at 02:30.
The ecumenical volunteers inform us: The gate was opened at 05:07. In the first wave 975 persons entered and after that the gate was closed. It was opened again at 06:15 and a new wave was allowed to enter. In the meantime the line of people waiting became longer.
The women are pushed aside by the crowding and are trying to get to the head of the line. There is an “humanitarian” entrance but it is still not in use and therefore children, women are pressed between the waiting men. From time to time some athletic youngsters succeed in climbing the fence and so reach the head of the line.
The people are embittered. Part loses a workday if they do not arrive in time and part start the workday late, they work 8 hours and must be back at the checkpost before the validity of their permit terminates. After six p.m. there are no group-taxi’s to the villages south of Bethlehem and then they are obliged to hire a private taxi.
About every 15 minutes the gate is opened and allows another wave of around 100-150 people to enter through the carrousel.
Click here to see a video of the evnets.
We tried to understand where the bottle-neck is in this denigrating procedure. We concluded that is not the carrousel, even though there is only one. The problem is in the absence of infrastructure in the building itself, as also was stated by the commander of checkpoint.
We stayed until nearly eight and outside the checkpoint were still hundreds of people.