Bethlehem and Etzion DCL
: Etzion DCL 14:30-18:00
Because of the terrible pressure, which we had witnessed during the last couple of weeks at the Etzion DCL, we decided to return there. And indeed there were again many people in the waiting hall and again a large group of them crowded towards the turnstiles. Already in the parking area someone approached us asking us to ‘DO’ something to speed things up. He had been there since 8:30 in the morning and only 37 men had entered since. We explained that we were unable to do much, but since it was already 3:15, less than two hours before closing time, we called the officers of the DCL. Calls to Danny, the officer who had given us last week the number of his mobile, remained unanswered. Instead a nice sergeant called Yoad replied. He told us that he was in charge of ‘operations’ – what operations exactly? We explained to him that the pressure in the waiting hall is awful, that the men are frustrated and angry about the slow movement of the queue and that a few of them were here already for the third or fourth time and realize that they will again have to leave without the desired document, for another week without any chance of employment. He listened politely, but claimed that he was unable to do anything, but that as soon as the officers’ meeting was over, he would report to them what we had told him. Half an hour passed during which time no one was allowed in through the turnstiles. Another call to Yoad, who again replied very courteously, but when we asked for one of the officers to come to calm down the angry crowds, he explained that they had gone into another meeting. Attempts to give up calling and try to catch the attention of the soldier at the window were also fruitless.
At some point two brothers approached us, both of then were born in the area but had emigrated already about twenty years ago, one to Canada and the other to Germany. The two of them had come to visit their mother who has cancer and is hospitalized in serious condition in a hospital in East Jerusalem. They had tried to pass the checkpoints with their foreign passports, but since they don’t have an Israeli entry visa, this proved impossible. The Canadian brother asked us to help him obtain a permit, at least for his brother, who is a physician and wants to reach his mother as soon as possible. We decided to act more energetically. Another call to Yoad with a description of the humanitarian situation and another attempt to catch the attention of the soldier at the window. After many shouts to the window the soldier finally finished talking on his phone and answered – it was already 4:40 PM. According to the soldier one of the problems of letting the doctor in is the pressure the other men put on the turnstiles, which can therefore not open. Unwillingly, but understanding the situation, those who were already closest gave up their place and the doctor was able to get in. In less than ten minutes he returned very grateful since to his surprise he had received the permission for an entire week and not just for the two days he had requested. We are unable to repeat his expression of gratitude and appreciation towards us – and above all to find that there are Israelis who care.
Altogether about fifty men had entered the DCL during the entire day, half of the men needing the extension of their magnetic card. The others waited with the faint hope that maybe after all … until the closure of the DCL?
And again we wonder why matters cannot be dealt with in more humane and effective ways.