Bethlehem, Fri 2.5.08, Morning
Summary: Jewelry was detained, children couldn't pass since "we have responsibility for them", the training of a new soldier.
Bethlehem: When we arrived the place was abandoned, even though two thirds of the lines were open. Only one post was manned. Later another kline opened. Few Palestinians passed. They have already learned that they better not try to pass before, after and during Jewish holidays, unless it is an emergency.
Tourists were passing. Among those entering the occupied territories were some who got confused. Once they got out of the inspection booth they didn't know where to turn. We saw that there was no sign.
An angry Palestinian woman arrived from Bethlehem heading to Jerusalem: she was detained and told to take of all of her jewelry and put them on the ground. She was a well known business woman who passes almost every day at the checkpoint, but this time she had a brochette on that had probably set all the machines (metal detectors) in the checkpoint on and caused her some humiliation.
Another Palestinian that got annoyed at the checkpoint was the father of a child that had arrived on his own from their home which was the nearest house to the checkpoint from Jerusalem. The child wanted to pass to Bethlehem for some shopping. He had his Kushan (Birth Certificate - the original one this time- unlike the last time when the child brought a copy and they wouldn't let him pass because it was not the original one). The soldier spoke Hebrew and a Palestinian that was passing there volunteered to translate. Eventually she told him to call his father. He did as she said and the father arrived after several minutes and verified that this was his son and that he wanted to pass since his mother was waiting for him at Bethlehem. The soldier refused and insisted that the mother come to the checkpoint to take her son. After a short argument the father left in anger with his son. We tried to understand from the soldier what the regulations were.
-You demanded that the father should come to the terminal and he did. Why wouldn't you let him pass?
- We don't allow children to pass on their own.
- Why? His father allowed.
- Because he is an Israeli citizen. We are responsible for him.
- Meaning that if he was a Palestinian from the territories you would allow him to pass?
- (It can't be that we are responsible for Palestinian children. After all we were quick to renounce it when it came to the four victims at Beit Hanun).
The soldier started getting mixed up with the regulations. It was obvious that she didn't really know what she was supposed to do.
The checkpoint commander played hide and seek between the posts, he happily hopped along when leaving a suspicious object at the booth of one woman soldier. She didn't notice it since he placed it on the other side of the booth while she was busy with someone who wanted to pass and he was showing her his permits. After several minutes the commander decided to test her. He took the object and this time put it on the front window. Obviously she noticed it this time and asked the Palestinian in front of her if it was his. She detained him while making a call until she found out she was just being tested. This test was supposed to convince her to put on a ceramic shield. Another soldier told her that the glass of the booth could protect her from a rock or from being beaten up but not from an explosive device, and that one day he will have to call her mother and tell her that her daughter is dead. The woman solider still wouldn't put a ceramic shield on.