Bethlehem (300)

Liliana Fridman and Natanya Ginsburg

We arrived at 5.45 and as the gate leading to  the  entrance to Bethehem was  closed Liliana had great trouble finding parking. There were literally 100s of people lying and sitting  on the pavement already from opposite Tantur and we had to push our way through the people coming out of the checkpoint itself.

The women complained that the humanitarian line was not open and  that it was very unpleasant for them. The ecumenical young man from Ecuador told us that sometimes the soldiers would open the exit line for them to come through and sometimes he himself  would try to make  their passage easier. One wonders knowing that so many people have had their permits cancelled who exactly the lucky one are who can still come through to work. The volunteer also told us that he had seen people being turned back because they did not have the actual permit on them and this even though it did appear on the computer. But this we did not see ourselves.

The passage was fast and the soldiers were working efficiently.

There were no soldiers but only three security guards present as usual smoking and  otherwise not taking any notice of us. The other member of the ecumenical couple was was on the other  side and came through to ask for help for a man who had to take his daughter to hospital  and  that the woman soldier had told him that the child could go through but he could not…..the girl was about six years old. Also for help with a man of about 30 who had a heart  condition and also had to get to hospital.  The guards called a policeman out who listened politely enough but said he could do nothing about this even though we asked him to check.

When we asked why the soldiers were smoking he immediately started  to show his power and his contempt for us saying in a most unpleasant tone, “Because I gave him permission to do so” and then calling to the soldier said, “You can  light two cigarettes. I give you permission.” Needless to say he did not have a name tag on  and it was obviously just inviting for vulgarity to ask him for his name.  

We left just after 7.00 when the mass of people  had  slowed to a trickle.