Bethlehem, Fri 2.1.09, Morning
Summary: there was a complete closure. The cynical sign hanging from the Ministry of Tourism wished us that we have a happy holiday. They had constructed over the entire path, see-through shields against the winter wind: It probably isn't meant for the Palestinians or for MW women, but for the soldiers, and perhaps for the foreign pilgrims. Either the machines went nuts or that the hand prints had changed. Bethlehem Checkpoint: in spite of the fact that the radio said that men over 50 would be allowed to enter, it seemed that the orders had changed and there was a complete closure. The Palestinians remembered their past experiences and to begin with they decided not to arrive to the checkpoint and go through the aggravation and humiliation of refusal, all over again. During our shift only 19 Palestinians passed.
Only one post was open, two soldiers were sitting in it with utter indifference. Two Palestinians who passed into the Palestinian side were warned that they wouldn't be able to come back because of the closure.
-Until when? Asked one of them
-Until the end of the year… said the soldier
At about 10:00 a Palestinian was refused passage because the computer had indicated that there was a problem with his finger prints. He had all the necessary document and a magnetic card as well. He said that he had no problems passing only two day earlier and that he had to get to the hospital. Nothing would convince the soldier, he told the Palestinian that he had to head to the DCL and renew (?) his prints. We asked that they allow him to try again. The soldier said that he had already scanned his hand five times. Nonetheless after a while he agreed to give him another go, but the result was negative again. The man left and came back an hour later (probably after he found out that the DCL was closed on Fridays) and was denied passage again.