Bethlehem, Sheikh Saed, Fri 23.11.07, Morning
During the Bethlehem part of our shift (about 45 min), only permit holders approach the CP. Only one window is open. Since the number of people asking to cross into Israel is not so large today, no extreme delays are caused.
A private security guard who obviously has never seen Machsom Watchers before calls his superior to find out if we are allowed to be there, and we hear him answering, "Let them stay, but the moment they try to talk to the soldiers, kick them out". The young man then asks if we need any more people in our organization and is surprised to hear that we are all women and volunteers.
Maybe we should offer paid jobs to guys wishing to change sides...
A man in traditional garb is called back to the window after entering, for no obvious reason, by a young woman soldier who displays ludicrous behavior much of the time, but is released shortly thereafter.
At Sheikh Saed a lot of people are waiting on the hill above the CP for a little bit of flexibility and common sense on the side of the men at the CP. Noone, really noone, including very old people is allowed to pass during our shift. Only a young man is granted - thanks to E's intervention - 40 minutes (!) to visit his mother at the hospital in Jerusalem, but has to deposit his ID with the BP at the CP. An old man tells us that even for funerals there is a 2 hr time limit.
One BP yells at the people that those without permits have no chance to pass. An older woman defiantly replies, "then we'll just pray right here", but in the end they don't.
Several people show us copies of a document written by someone at the Ministry of the Interior in 1996, testifying to the fact that the case of Sheikh Saed is still pending in court and that therefore people should be granted passage, but of course this doesn't interest any of the men ("we answer to the army, not to the Ministry of the Interior"). Our three calls to superior commanders for the sake of relaxing conditions a bit meet with disinterest and inaction.