Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
Bethlehem (300) (Palestinian side)
4:30 – 6:00 am.
We arrived at Checkpoint 300 at 4.30 am. By that time the main line was already fully packed and people were trying to jump the queue by climbing on the metallic bars. At 5:00, as we were standing in the exit line just before the turnstile, we could observe the exit line was getting very crowded. At that point, an elderly policeman arrived, accompanied by a young and very aggressive private security guard. Shouting, they violently pushed the people standing in the exit line back to the tunnel, not discriminating between young men, old men, women or children, and closed the door.
As people were crushed against the door with no apparent intention of going back down the exit line, the policeman took out a tear gas canister as a threat, though he did not open it. Then, he and the security guard began detaining the men who were climbing on the bars to jump the queue. These men were stopped after passing the first turnstile and their permits were confiscated. We understood they could get it back by going to DCO at Gush Etzion. The policeman and security guard were behaving very aggressively towards the Palestinians. The policeman, for instance, grabbed one of the detained men by the collar and pushed him violently against the wall, as the latter tried to negotiate to get his permit back.
At 5:34 two officers finally arrived to check the permits of the people potentially allowed to go through the exit / humanitarian line. They began to let women, children, old men and people with appropriate permits go through. We were respectfully asked by one of the officers to leave the exit line. We continued observing the checkpoint from the Palestinian side of the first turnstile until approximately 6 am. Everything seemed to return to normal, so when asked for a second time to leave the premises, we left.