Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Thu 25.2.10, Afternoon

Ruth O. Orit Y. and Ilana D. (reporting)

From 2:30 till 4:30 PM

Etzion DCL: just before the rainy weekend construction was going full blast ahead opposite the old entrance to El Khader near the Eastern Entrance to Hussan. On the main road a traffic light will be installed and towards the parking lot of the Palestinian buses and taxis a roundabout is almost completed, making sure that the inhabitants of Beitar Illith and Tzur Hadassa will be able to reach Jerusalem with as little as possible interference from the Palestinian drivers. Some asphalt had even been thrown on the path leading to the tunnel underneath Road 60.

The Highway has been newly asphalted and was shiny black with newly painted white arrows and yellow markings along the curbs. It will not take long before no more Palestinian vehicles will be allowed to travel along Road 60 to the South. However, we did notice a somewhat larger number of donkeys with their riders. Will they be banned too?

There were quite a few cars and even a bus parked at the Etzion DCL. Inside we saw about ten people crowding near the turnstiles and were told that for the past hour no one had been allowed inside. There was no soldier at the window. Apparently most of the passengers of the bus had already entered.

A man told us that soldiers had entered the house of his uncle the night before in Beit Ummar and had ordered everyone outside. The women were frantic and the youngest boy, four years old, was extremely afraid. Three older brothers were told to identify themselves. They were not home. This caused more shouting and angry curses from the part of the soldiers. One lives elsewhere,and the two others were at work. One works for the Palestinian security. The man we spoke to had driven two of the three brothers in the morning to the DCL, as they had been ordered  to come for an ‘interview’ with captain Tamir. The third brother was still on duty with the Palestinian police and therefore unable to come. Captain Tamir, when the situation was explained to him over the phone, had cursed in the most extremely foul language, which could not be repeated to our ears. One of the brothers had finally been allowed to enter, the other, very tired, since he had not had any sleep that night, was still in the waiting hall.

We called the office and were told that due to the arrival of the bus and the shortage of manpower it had been impossible to deal with all requests. We said that someone should come out and explain this to the crowd, since meanwhile more people, amongst whom there were some women, had arrived. We were then told that despite the fact that it was a Thursday and the DCL was supposed to close at 4:00 PM all those still waiting outside would be dealt with before the Purim holiday – a welcome change and relief. Slowly more people were let in and will hopefully have their requests fulfilled.