…over the new Nazi-like prison that processes people who wish to enter the place where Jesus was born? Seriously: if Christians care about their religious and cultural heritage, let alone the condition of Palestinians under occupation, this new evil created by the Israelis is the thing to put their energy towards.
There is a new hell that cropped up since the last time I’ve been to Palestine. I experienced it for the first time yesterday. It’s a brand new checkpoint installation at Bethlehem. It is the most nightmarish monstrosity I can imagine. I can’t upload my photos yet, but there is a Danish man who wrote about it on Electronic Intifada and you can read his assessment and view photos there. When you first approach it you have to press a buzzer to let you in the first turnstile. It is all electronic so once they allow you in you find yourself locked between two of them, all alone, and the Israeli solider is behind a glass plated booth. He gets to decide your fate, whether you can pass through the next electronic turnstile or not. Then you walk through an extensive, gated, prison-like structure which takes you down to a new level of the actual building. When you enter, you may find yourself all alone, as I did, which is far worse than at Qalandia where at least you are among other people so if something happened to you there would be witnesses. Here there are none. Unless you count the Israeli occupying solider who is walking on a plank above you and pointing a gun at you from wherever you move. This part of the building is full of metal bars for people to line up within and lots of heavy, metal doors that are shut tight. There were no signs, other than signs saying exit and enter, but I didn’t know which I was doing in the context of this space; I had no idea where to go next. I began to scream until the soldier from above answered and pointed with his gun which way I should walk. I went through another turnstile, again controlled by the Israeli soldiers, and then I found myself in an airport-like metal detector area with a place for your bags and a metal detection device to walk through. Here the soldiers were also behind glass window booths. Then you go through another electronic turnstile and go to the final place where they check your passport. If you make it through this entire horrific place you get to go to Al Quds.
I cannot express how horrifying this place is. I was here only one month ago and nothing of the sort even could be detected on the horizon as you crossed the old, outdoor checkpoint. I swear to God that every time I come back here it is so much worse than before. I cannot believe the speed with which the occupying forces are creating these border crossings, on occupied lands. Moreover, I cannot believe how once again all of the media’s focus on the new open Rafah crossing from Ghaza to Egypt took away from the fact that this has been built. I cannot believe how a group of people, who live off the Jewish holocaust’s stories from birth, can be reproducing this, out in the open and no one says anything about it. Everyone here is so strong and hardened from these increasingly evil ways of occupying Palestinians, but I cannot hold back my tears. I’m truly heartbroken and I am at the point where I am ready to make aliah–not to Israel, of course, but to the Palestinian Authority. Bethlehem is now offering international passports and I am seriously considering how to get my hands on one. How can I leave this place and feel like I’ve done nothing to try to work against the various ways Israel is ethnically cleansing the Palestinian population.