Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Qalandiya, Wed 22.4.09, Afternoon

Ruth O., Orit Y., Ilana D. (reporting)

Hussan, Al-Aroub.

From 2:00 till 5:30 PM.
there were many yellow cabs parked at the entrance to Hussan and hardly any buses arrived to drop potential passengers. A few drivers complained bitterly about the behaviour of the soldiers in Al-Aroub. They claim that mainly in the morning between 6:30 and 8:00 AM they confiscate their keys and disappear, because they stop to pick up passengers at a spot, which endangers traffic. Sometimes the drivers have to wait an hour or more before they get the car keys back and thus are unable to make any money during the only busy hours of the day. 

Al-Aroub: we headed straight to the Al-Aroub refugee camp and parked in front of the grocery store. We approached the soldiers under the watchtower who were very impolite and told some of the drivers to move away from where they were dropping or picking up passengers, telling them to stop ‘beyond the pole’, but then changing the directions they had given earlier. We also were told in no uncertain terms that we should get lost, since we parked in a dangerous spot. Since when are these soldiers responsible for road safety?

When we asked to whom we might complain we were referred to the regional commander (‘khatmar’).
Etzion DCL: as we drove up to the DCL we saws that the regional commander is right above it, so we decided to go in. the soldier at the gate was adamant not to let us in, but suggested we call the war-room (khamal) and gave us the number.
We made the calls from the almost empty DCL waiting room and found out that Yoav, with whom we were supposed to speak was in a meeting. A man from Saloniki with dual citizenship accompanied a friend who did not get permission to visit the Christian Church in Jerusalem to which he belongs.

After we called, he was allowed to re-enter and was issued a magnetic card and told to apply with it to the Palestinian DCL and request the desired permit. A group of four youngsters under 16 exited angrily – they had been denied permit to enter Jerusalem to pray in Christian Churches. Then some men came out and got into a car with a red-numbered license plate, it turns out that they work in the Bethlehem DCL and had come to coordinate permits with the officers here. They told us that youngsters under 16 who are not in possession of their own ID card can only enter Israel with their parents. 

Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: on the door of CP 300  a new sheet with directions in Arabic was posted. A Druze (blue) policeman explained to us that the regulations were aimed at preventing illegal workers from getting into Israel. The main object is to ensure that whoever enters in the morning exits at the same place in the afternoon and this will from now on be checked. It will also ensure that people who have to be back into the West Bank do not overstay their allotted time. This will be enforced as of June 1st.  This will certainly affect VERY NEGATIVELY those Palestinians entering via Qalandiya, since they could till now leave Jerusalem without any checking and if this causes long delays after a day of work it will cause additional bitterness. At the Bethlehem passage they have had to show their papers also when coming back from Jerusalem, but could have gone through the tunnels or any other way with their employers.