Bethlehem (300)

Yehudit Elkana, Yael Yisraeli, Natanya Ginsburg

9.30   The morning started off very quietly and we entered the Palestinian side of Bethlehem checkpoint with no problem. We noticed that there seemed to be fewer people than last week. The question was: was it because of the terrorist attacks in Qiryat Arba and Natanya? But afterwards we were told that being Laylat Al Kader, people would be allowed in the afternoon to go the mosque until about 22.00 in the evening and therefore  people were not rushing to go through. The checkpoint would be closed, but then at 14.30 the gatesinfo-icon would again be opened.

There was much more pressure in the men’s line also because many of the younger men were in the line evidently hoping to get through. 17,500 had gone through until  about 10.

Just before 12  there was an announcement that the gates were going to be closed. We made our way to the women’s passage but were stopped by a young man who wanted Sylvia’s details. By the time we had given him the information, the men were already pushing their way through that passage as well and it was very hard to get through. Yael was waiting for us on the other side and we began moving as fast as we could towards the large iron gates with the Palestinians rushing forward and the soldiers with their weapons pointed moving back as fast as they could with the commander urging them back.

Natanya was separated from Yehudit and Yael and pressed against the iron gate and fell down. From there she was rescued by a member of the Red Crescent who somehow managed to push his way through to the upper gate, which was also locked by the soldiers. After calling them a few times they allowed her through but unfortunately with all the good will in the world she could not get them to allow her savior to go through too.

Yehudiet and Yael had to wait on the Bethlehem side until 2.30 when the gates were once again opened.