Beit Ummar, Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 1.2.10, Morning
7.00 AM, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: an unusual number of cars waiting in the road. People coming out of the checkpost complain of inordinately long wait inside – between one and two hours. At the four operating checkpoints on our side in the shed there were few Palestinians – they seemed to come in waves. The policeman in charge, however, seemed to think it was a good morning and that 2,500 people had already come through.
7.30 –10.00 AM: we stopped at Hussan, the gas station at Etzion, Halhul, Beit Ummar and at the Etzion DCL. This was a ‘business’trip on Chaya’s part, to meet ‘refuseniks,’ arrange for them to sign documents and make payments for legal fees, advise them of procedures, etc. [ I must add a personal note: This whole process was an eye-opener for me (CS), who had never seen this great team in action. While Chaya stressed how pitifully small our contribution was – often it was merely to enable a person deprived of his livelihood just to begin to get information as to what his legal status is and to know why he was refused a permit – in the face of all the thousands who are similarly deprived, I could not but be impressed by the patient way in which she carefully and repeatedly explained the necessary steps to each man. In each case she gave her phone number in case of difficulty.] It was so clear that the bureaucracy is totally overwhelming – and all in Hebrew, too.
At Halhul, the newly paved entrance is impressive until one realises that coming out of Halhul the inhabitants cannot turn left so as to travel north, but have to makea 2 kilometer drive south before being able to turn. This is in contrast to the nearby settlement Karmei Zur whose 200 families are provided with both left and right turns!