Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 11.10.09, Afternoon
Besides one young man waiting for a friend who is spending long hours with the GSS, all are waiting for magnetic cards, among them a considerable number of women. Each time the turnstile is operated, about 10 people are let in. Waiting time in the office inside is over an hour long.
We embark on a warm and friendly conversation with a young woman waiting for 3 older ones - her mother, mother in law and their friend. In eloquent English she tells that she and her husband own a printing and sales promotion business and are doing well. The occupation and its consequences are naturally the topic. The woman says they seldom go into Jerusalem or travel at all because of the necessity of using detours and going through the checkpoints. A young and good looking woman joins the conversation. In perfect Hebrew she asks whether we frequent the Palestinian DCL as well and if we have a say there too. She has serious complaints about the goings on at the Palestinian DCL and the way they treat their clients. It turns out she is an Israeli who married a Palestinian 7 years ago (in Cyprus). They live most of the time in Bet Jallah but once in 3 months the husband gets a 3 day permit to visit with his wife in Jerusalem where she keeps an apartment. That is what they came for today. In the meanwhile the 3 older women come out, laughing and dancing. They are greeted with a jolly "Mabruk" as they are now the owners of a magnetic card. We part, each back to her life and destiny.
5 more people arrive in intervals and they too are magnetic cards seekers. Except for one unlucky guy, whose wife ruined his precious permit by putting it in the washer. He desperately hopes that they will give him a new one in exchange for the crumbs of paper he is holding on to for dear life. Though the waiting hall is empty by now, the 5 become agitated as they are made to wait. We set their mind at rest explaining that there are a least 20 people in the office inside and they calm down.
The soldier at the window behind the turnstiles, who speaks fair Arabic and good English, is very polite and considerate towards the people.
16:00 PM, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: many workers rushing in on their way home. Four stations are open making passage smooth and swift. Two groups of tourists go through in the opposite direction - from Bethlehem in to Jerusalem.