Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 18.1.10, Afternoon

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Shlomit S., Ora A. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

14.00  Etzion DCL:  when we arrived at the DCLwe found people in the waiting hall who had come in spite of the storm, the rain, hail and fog which greatly hindered movement on the roads.   A young man told us that he had been summoned to a meeting with the GSS (General Security service). Yesterday, people came into his shop, and searched it, without speaking to him.  They told him to stand aside and to keep silent. Before they left they told him he should report  to the Etzion DCL the next day at 09.00, and added “if you don’t come  it will go badly for you”.   He had already arrived at 08.00; they took his ID from him and his wallet (without any moneyin it), and told him to wait. He had been waiting since then.

We tried to phone people at the DCO (the District co-ordination office of the civil administration), to request them to remind the GSS that the young fellow had alrady been waiting for six hours (he was certainly hungry because there is no possibility to obtain food in the DCL or its surroundings). However, no-one answered our calls.  In the meantime, the storm grew stronger, and a cold wind penetrated into the hall, the ceiling leaked, and puddles formed on the floor. 

 We continued to phone to everyone that we thought could help. When we called, the young man told us that just a few minutes beforehand he had been called-in, after waiting an additional two hours. Afterwards, they spoke to him for ten minutes and their parting words were, according to him “go home, you maniac”. That’s to say, the young chap  was held for a whole day without any reason being given and with no explanation.

He is not the first or the only person that the GSS has abused in this way. Each time we come to this place we meet people who complain that the GSS summons them and forces them to wait many hours. Often,  they are instructed to return the next morning. One complained that he had been summoned five times, day after day, and each time he was sent home and told to return the next day. Every time this happens we see that the GSS continues to act however it chooses, and apparently there is no supervision over its activities.

We must find a way to make a protest about this.

Another Case: three people , a grandfather, a brother and a cousin of a youth who had been imprisoned for two weeks and who was due to be released today, asked us for help. They showed us a document which testified to this. They had not been told where he would be released and they had been searching for him since the morning. They had gone to the “Ofer” army camp this morning,  from there they were sent to the Etzion DCL from where they had been sent to the Etzion police-station and from there back to the DCL. They have already been waiting there for along time.  We called Maher and to major Danny from the DCL, but they made no effort to help. We asked for the telephone number of the prison which is situated a few hundred meters away from the DCL. Major Danny claimed that he didn’t have the prison telephone number. After more efforts we got hold of the number, phoned and were told that the youth was there, but they refused to tell us when he would be released. They added that they would speak only to a lawyer. 

 The youth’s family members phoned to the youth’s lawyer to ask him to phone  the prison, and coninued to wait. They knew that he had no money and no telephone and that when he was released he would not be able to travel home on his own. Meanwhile, the storm got worse, and the DCL was about to close. It was impossible to find out where the youth was situated, and when and where he would be taken to. Only after an argument over the telephone it was hinted that the family should wait for an unspecified length of time, until a vehicle could be found to convey him three hundred meters from the prison to the DCL. 

We drove to the Bethlehem checkpoint, and after we left we spoke to the family. It appeared that the DCL had closed and they were waiting in the parking lot. Shlomit phoned, argued (with the prison authorities), and  did not give-in. She insisted that they release the man whom they should have released in the morning but were holding him until the evening because the Israeli army couldn’t find a jeep to take him a few hundred meters. It appeared that her efforts were successful and at 18.30 he was released. The family thanked Shlomit warmly.

An additional case : a youth told us that he had a permit to go for a medical examination at the Mukasad hospital in Jerusalem. According to him, he arrived at the hospital at twelve-noon, which was the time he was allocated, and was told that the doctor wasn’t there and he should come back the next day. A friend who accompanied him, suggested that he would take him to Mevaseret, where he could collect things that he needed,and from there he would take him back to Bethlehem. They drove to Mevaseret and were stopped by a police patrol. Alas, they caught him in the act of performing a major crime: he had not only been at the Mukasad hospital, but had also driven to Mevaseret. At the Mevaseret police-station they questioned him, and according to him gave him a 'finger printing'. They also confiscated his magnetic card, although this is forbidden, and of course the youth didn’t receive a written confirmation that the card had been confiscated. He knew that the interrogator who took his card was called Samir, and another policeman who was there was called Adiv.  Now he has had to search for a way to recover his magnetic card.

Shlomit spoke to Danny, who claimed  that the the permit was valid only to visit the hospital.   She asked whether it was written that it was forbidden for him to visit another place until the time specified for him to return to the hospital. Also, even if this had been written, it could be assumed it would have been in Hebrew. Also she asked whether he, Danny,  reads in detail everything that is written in all the documents he receives. In answer to her questions, Danny just laughed. He also added that “the magnetic card costs money and  there is no proof that it was taken away by the policemen”.  When Shlomit again tried to convey all the details, he didn’t answer the telephone, and didn’t return her call as she had requested.