Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 19.7.10, Afternoon
Numerous cars filled the parking lot, and a large crowd filled the waiting hall. We learned that tomorrow is a Christian holiday, and many are waiting for a permit to enter Israel in order to participate in a religious ceremony on the Carmel. They had been told that entrance permits are available only from the churches, yet they still had expectations of being allowed in and provided with permits. We spoke with Danny who confirmed that they must ask the church.
There were also men and women wishing to renew their magnetic cards. There was no soldier on duty and nobody took care of them. We made a few phone calls and the soldier appeared to let them in. After a short while they emerged with their magnetic cards.
As usual there were people summoned by the Shabak (Security Forces). And as usual their documents were taken away, and they were ordered to wait. They waited for hours, not knowing when or if someone will talk to them. To our surprise, a little after 3 p.m. one of them was summoned by name on the loudspeaker. He immediately ran to the door. After a while, another was summoned, and we wondered whether the Shabak had decided to be more considerate and shorten the waiting time. Or whether they had decided to send off the rest of those summoned because it was Tisha Be-Av and they wanted to reach home early.
Many labourerers returning from work crowded the entrance to the checkpoint, and the line stretched as far as the road. Inside only one checking station was operative! Hard to understand how one could possibly cope at 4 p.m. with just a single station when hundreds arrive daily at this hour. Angry sounds came from the crowd and it appeared that an explosion was imminent.
We called all those who might help but there was no answer. A policeman saved the situation. He opened the gates wide, as he had done on a similar occasion a few weeks ago, and let the crowd in. After a short while 2 female soldiers appeared and opened another 2 stations.