Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 15.2.09, Morning
7:00 AM, Bethlehem Checkpoint 300: we are greeted by a smiling Palestinian woman, L, who announces with glee that a new line has been opened for women, children, old people, tourists, and the sick. This is a great relief to all these group, especially the women, who suffered harassment from the men in the lines in the past.
The gates were opened on time this morning, but at 05:30 suddenly the magnetic detectors shut off for half an hour and no one got through. The Ecumenicals told us that at this time 1600 people have passed through. Five windows are open , after a while one shut close, then was reopened again.
7:30 The line at the other side ended, the exit hall was full. 2200 people had passed through, less than usual.
8:30 AM, Etzion DCL: the chairs in the waiting hall have been replaced by new and more sturdy ones, still in their plastic covers. 45 people have signed up with the Palestinian "sadran". At this time 15 people have been admitted to the windows, but they start coming out only close to 9:00. An interesting question comes up: Two women, each with the requisite permits to come to Jerusalem on a regular basis, complain that they are not allowed through on Saturday! One of them is a first-grade teacher in a school in Jerusalem. She teaches on Saturday. The other one has a family in Israel and is allowed to live with them. She went to visit her family in Bethlehem and wanted to return yesterday, but was turned away. She will try again today.
It's not clear why people who work on Saturday and have valid permits are not allowed to cross the checkpoints.