Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 7.2.10, Afternoon
15:15 PM, Etzion DCL: seven cars in the parking lot, 2 men inside the waiting hall. They turn to us immediately upon our arrival.
One of them has been after a merchant's permit for the past year and a half, but to no avail. He and his brother are in the fruit and vegetable business, and according to him have a turnover of tens of thousand shekels. He is also above the age of 30, has a family he needs to support and cannot understand why they keep telling him at the Palestinian DCL in Bethlehem, to talk to D., the head of the Etzion DCL as only D. can explain why he is denied the permit and perhaps help him. Could we, please, try and contact D., he begs and he pleads. We do, but D. does not answer his cell phone (though to our surprise he does send back a text message saying that he is in a meeting). We suggest the man also ask for Sylvia's assistance (we suspect he already has), while explaining that his chances of obtaining a permit are next to nil.
The other man has been caught in Israel without a permit, not at work, he says, but just on a trip with a friend. His magnetic card was confiscated by the police. Could we help? Obviously not. We suggest he wait for the policeman at the DCL.
We leave with a heavy heart thinking about the time these men have to spend trying to get their papers in order, how frustrated they must be again and again when nothing works, and especially how awful it is for them to have to go down on their knees before so many people including ourselves.
Our only "success" was in getting some one to finally come to the empty post at the window behind the turnstiles so as to let in the few people who had come into the waiting hall in the meantime. It took 2 phone calls and about 20minutes.
16:30 PM, Bethlehem Checkpoint 300: The usual. It takes no more than a minute to go through.