Bethlehem (300)

Ida, Claire Oren (Reporting) Marcia L., Translation

09:00 – 11:00

A lot of people pass through the checkpoint today, a steady stream that doesn’t stop; many more than are usual for a Friday.  It seems this is related to the approaching holiday of Eid al-Adh-ha that commemorates the period of pilgrimage to Mecca.  There is a special passion to visit the Al-Aksah Mosque in East Jerusalem and family members in other places.

Three inspection stations and sometimes four are open and working (very rare on Fridays).  Stations 3 and 4 are broken, and therefore they opened stations 5 and 6. Most of the Palestinians greet us, and are happy and cheerful.  It is fun to smile at children and women and receive big smiles from them in return.

From time-to-time, men and women are disappointed because they discover that they are “too young” and haven’t reach the age (above 55) which allows them to pass through with no special permit, only with an identity card.  They thought that on Fridays, and in order to pray, they could pass through without a permit.

The security guards are hostile.  In an attempt to find out why they returned a woman despite the fact that she really looked older, the answer was, “I won’t speak with you; I only speak with security people and the police.”

When a Palestinian also requested to speak with him, the security guard also refused to approach and speak.  Thus began a full pantomime because the security guard does not listen and doesn’t speak Arabic.  “Hey, come back here!” was suddenly heard from one of the inspection stations.  The security guard ran and grabbed a man who passed through innocently.  It was evident that the explanation was that the Palestinian was blind and deaf.  He had a permit and in the end, he passed through.  It is frightening to think what would have happened to him on the street at night during a patrol of the army, as happened in Shuafat (a Palestinian neighborhood in northern Jerusalem). 

A senior policeman who arrives from time-to-time at the checkpoint appeared toward the end of the watch accompanied by two security guards, and also demanded that we stand outside.  In spite of that I commented to him that “I do not intend to fight with you again, but you know, and all those who hear you now know, that the things that you say are incorrect and that we are allowed to be here.  Perhaps in spite of this you will check with your superior, if there is someone like that.”

And the answer:  “The last time I checked with him he confirmed that it is forbidden for you to stand inside the checkpoint, just like at all other checkpoints such as Kalandia and others.”