Bethlehem, Fri 28.11.08, Morning

Efrat B., Clair O. (both reporting)

Summary: there was very little activity at the checkpoint. One specific incident illustrated the bleak situation very well:  the army’s apathy, our sadness, and the Palestinians’ despair.  09.00.-10.30 AM, Bethlehem Checkpoint: most of the time there was just a trickle of Palestinians through the checkpoint. There were no hold-ups or waiting for inspections.   Also, in the few cases where a Palestinian had difficulty in placing his hand correctly in the (finger-print inspection) machine, this caused a delay of only a minute or two. Only one man was sent back because the name on his permit didn’t match the information in the computer. Suddenly, a Palestinian, about forty years old, cried-out that the bag containing all his documents had been stolen. He tried to pass underneath the barrier, but the soldiers demanded that he should turn-back immediately. He explained that he had placed his bag at the transition-point and someone had taken it (it was not clear to us if this was by mistake or willfully).   He was very upset and the implication of his having lost all his documents could be clearly seen on his face.   He implored the soldiers to let him search the minibus which was waiting outside, to see if someone had taken his bag there. He wasn’t allowed to pass, even though he promised to return. He also pointed out that his brother was behind him, and should arrive any minute.  His brother indeed arrived and searched inside the minibus, but returned empty-handed.   We appealed to the soldier and to the security guard that they should try to help the man, but they displayed abysmal indifference. The Palestinian walked backwards and forwards behind the inspection positions, and then, having no other choice, returned to where he came from.