Bethlehem, Fri 20.3.09, Morning

Claire O. (reporting)

09.00 - 10.00 AM, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300:  three inspection stations are open, and many Palestinians cross-over during the first half-hour that I was there. Also, quite a few people cross from Israel to Bethlehem. No queue forms, and the finger-print machine is apparently working. From time to time someone is asked to place his hand on the machine for a second time or even a third, but no-one is rejected because of the machine. A Palestinian tries to cross but is refused because he hasn’t got t permit. He explains that that he has an urgent work-related meeting, and that he crossed five days before and that he has no time to go to the DCO.   Nothing helps, but the two soldiers who are circulating in the checkpoint speak to him quietly and respectfully.  A woman with a blue identity-card, who lives in Beit Nakuba, wants to cross to Bethlehem to visit relations. She is asked to show an invoice (electricity or anything else) from Bethlehem, but she has made no attempt to prove that she lives there. She is not allowed to pass.

At 09.40 An Ecumenical volunteer arrives, and passed through in the direction of Bethlehem.

Several women came out with big smiles and told me “Today, everything is OK !”.

That’s how it is:  when the checkpoint is operating more-or-less like a transit station, that’s to say that people are checked to ensure they have the right permit, enough inspection stations are opened to prevent long queues, and when people are not treated insultingly, we are all happy because this is really not the usual situation .

By 10.00 the checkpoint is completely deserted, and the corridor is being washed-down with a hose. I left.