Bethlehem, Palestinian side - second Friday of Ramadan

Yehudit Elkana and Hanna Barag (reporting); Translator: Maya Bar Hiller

We have grown accustomed -- that is the first thought when observing the masses of people hurrying to celebrate their most important holiday under an occupation regime that controls their ability to do so.  The heat is great, the numbers are in the thousands, passage is exemplary, all is smooth, even the soldiers' behavior is OK -- and the world turns around
year after year.

We were prevented from crossing to the Palestinian side through the iron gate.  The Border Police officer, who offered us cookies, insisted we could only cross through the CP.  And so we did. Nobody questioned us, and we were surprised to emerge among the soldiers, who redirected us to the press point. Police and army joined forces to prevent passage of any "unauthorized". Fewer people than in previous years were turned back.  As we opened -- we have become accustomed.  Soldiers and police we knew greeted us warmly.

Accompanied by a UN acquaintance, we went to the women's passage.  As we stood in the shade, a group of soldiers appeared on the heels of a Palestinian who was denied passage, and they attacked us, too. It turned out that the guy was carrying a note that directed him to call MW in case of trouble.  We never saw this note before -- is it ours?  To avoid a confrontation, we left, and don’t know what transpired with the unlucky fellow.  The hatred towards us needs no proof.

At the male passage, the crowds streamed through, primarily older people. Did the youngsters pass with the women?