Bethlehem, Fri 20.8.10, Morning

Efrat B., Claire O. (both reporting). Charles K. (translating)

08:50-11:45 am, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300 (Israeli side).

four positions open, later 5 and 6.
The police commander opens the middle gate and enables people to go through quickly.
The Ecumenicals: At 06:00 it took men an hour and 20 minutes to cross; at 09:15 - 17 minutes.

A long line of buses awaits the worshippers. The entrance to the parking lot is blocked, as it was last week.

A very long line beginning at 09:20, it crawls, soldiers at their stations insist on checking everyone carefully, including the older men.  But they aren't rude. Two Border Policemen stand next to the soldiers, intervening if there's a problem.

One of the Border Policeman is asked that an additional lane be opened. He says he's already made the request. Half an hour later, an additional lane still hasn't opened. Suddenly ranking police officers arrive, see and are told what's going on and decide to open the gate between two stations and let the crowd of Palestinians through quickly.

One of the Ecumenicals reports that early in the morning it took him more than an hour to go through the checkpoint with the men. On the other hand, around 09:15 it took him only 17 minutes.

Today men as well as women are bypassing the building to cross.

A young man with a blue ID card and a black shirt on which is printed [in Hebrew] "Air force fitness training" has come from Jerusalem and wants to enter Bethlehem but isn't allowed to cross.  He's ordered to wait and his ID is taken to be inspected.

A very large number of Palestinians crossing.  Again there's a long line; a fifth and then a sixth station opens. 

11:15  A Palestinian sneaks through and is caught. It turns out that he has permits and all the necessary documents. He must have gotten anxious because of the line and feared he wouldn't reach the mosque in time. The Border Policeman sends him to the end of the line.