Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 1.11.09, Afternoon

Yael R., Daniela G. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

14:30 PM, Etzion DCL: quite a few cars in the parking lot and in the hall about 20 people waiting to be let in. A man says that the computers have been down and that people have been there since 10:00 AM and are let in one by one after long intervals. Miraculously, all of a sudden everybody is allowed thru and the waiting hall is empty. During the hour we were there, some 10 more people trickled in and waited 2-3 minutes  at the most before entering. More that half of the service seekers are women.


Upon our arrival, a man residing in Bethlehem turns to us for help. He works in construction, has been doing so for 25 years in Israel, he has a 6 months work permit still valid, but for the past month or so they do not let him thru at the Bethlehem CP. He is at wits end, having 5 children whom he now cannot provide for. We suggest he go in to have his handprint taken again and though he says he did so 2 weeks ago we ask the soldier, who seems fluent in Arabic and is very cordial towards us, to let him in. The soldier consents and also, at our request, opens the turnstile for yet another man who has lost all his papers and is being juggled around trying to report it. As for the former man, the one who's valid work permit is no longer effective, we eventually seek H's help who later informs us that, as we suspected, he has suddenly been declared a security threat to Israel for no apparent reason and is GSS refused even though he is around 50 and has been coming and going in and out of Israel for the past quarter of a century.


Another man was Police refused because of a pending case against him. In the meanwhile the file has been closed and though he has documents verifying that everything is over and done with and he is in the clear, he is unable to sort out his affairs because the policeman is absent, as usual.  According to the polite soldier, the policeman will be unavailable during the whole coming week…


16:00 PM, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: people, mostly workers, stream in and are thru to the other side within about a minute.