Kufr alDik, Fri 26.7.13, Morning
Bethlehem checkpoint (the Palestinian side), third Friday of Ramadan
We had the impression, and also heard from those who counted the number of people crossing, that fewer came to the checkpoint this week on their way to prayers. Age restrictions were very strictly applied. Young people who’d managed to get through the initial screening at the entrance to the checkpoint were stopped at the second inspection point and sent back. We had the impression more people were refused entry this week than in previous weeks. Women went through the crossing set aside for them; a cooler was operating there today which may have slightly eased today’s heat. As in previous weeks, a few women collapsed today also and required help from the Red Crescent. One woman was taken to an ambulance.
A blind woman accompanied by a youth older than 12 wasn’t able to go through with him, and wasn’t able to walk alone. Our intervention didn’t avail. We tried to convince them that the case demanded flexibility, but were met with a blank wall.
We met a man who wasn’t yet 40 years old, who tried to cross using a Jordanian passport. After one unsuccessful attempt he returned again. We feared they’d confiscate his passport, but after a short delay and a sermon he was sent on his way.
A group of worshippers tried to take a shortcut through the inner parking lot, which isn’t really a shortcut. They were stopped. A short discussion ensued; the group dispersed. Border Police officers who dealt with them acted intelligently and prevented an unnecessary flare-up.
The private security company’s guards were notable for their rude, ugly behavior. They acted so aggressively that one of the Border Police officers was forced to intervene – and a scuffle almost broke out between them. It wasn’t clear how the two security guards managed to “take over” the inspection station; it also led to loud arguments with other soldiers, officers and police who were there. Shameful!
Today we were introduced to the commander of the Palestinian DCO. After a failed attempt to converse in English, it turned out that German would be more effective. After a few minutes we learned he’d studied in Germany, spent four years there and was happy to refresh his use of the language. We asked whether, if we come next week, we can continue the conversation…the wonders of the occupation!!!