Al Nashshash, Etzion DCL, Wed 13.10.10, Afternoon
Hussan Junction: at the turn-off to Hussan there were many more yellow cabs than before. The access road has been newly paved by the Palestinian authority, which had received permission to do this from the Israeli Government. The drivers who came up in a huge cloud of dust from the bottom of the underpass to El Chader begged us to tell the Government to let the Palestinians also pave that stretch because the dust is hazardous to their health and that of Israelis too (they claimed). We told them that the government doesn’t usually listen to us, but promised to report.
There are many more taxi drivers than before, since whoever cannot get a work permit (and to have one ‘arranged’ for six months may cost 13,000 Shekels) decides to drive a taxi. The Palestinians Authority has therefore issued special permits, which allow the respective drivers on certain routes. These permits are in Hebrew and Arabic, so that the drivers can get fined both by the Palestinian as well as by the Israeli police. Thus a cab will never be allowed to take passengers all the way from Hebron to Jennin, but they will have to move into another cab in Bethlehem and then again in Ramallah and in Nablus. There is an organized taxi-stand at the Nashshash entrance to Bethlehem, where the drivers have to pay 4 Shekels to park and are then properly lined up by a person who ‘sits there and drinks coffee, meanwhile getting paid his four shekels by each driver.’ Those we met are saving the four Shekels and trying to fill up their cars in a less orderly fashion. We gave a man who wanted to get to El Aroub a lift till the Etzion junction – he claimed he had already waited for more than an hour, since it was not yet time for the workers to come home.
Etzion DCL: after the frustrating experience last week at the DCL we were eager to see whether the situation had improved a week after all the holidays and closures. But we were disappointed. The first person who approached us said he had been there since 4:00 AM. We also met some of the men who had been there last week and still had no magnetic card. It turned out that the turnstiles were broken and that although there was no one inside anymore, no one could enter because there is no other way in. We talked to Nir who said that he had no technician to fix it and that he had told the people to go home and return next week. He had no idea how long it would take to be fixed. He said that the men themselves had broken the entrance with their excessive pushing. We called Hanna B. because we needed assistance from above and she promised to try to do what she could. At that moment a well-dressed gentleman approached the turnstiles and talked on his cell-phone. We heard a few ‘clicks’ as if someone was trying a little harder from the inside to make the gates turn and indeed, it worked. Immediately the door was closed and all men inside the room lined up in an extremely orderly fashion and removed their belts without any pushing and shoving. All twenty men were allowed inside.
The gentleman’s car (a CC number) with running motor and driver was waiting in the parking lot. It was not the consul, but just someone who works at the British Consulate. After all men had entered it turned out that the handle of the entrance door to the waiting room was broken and only with difficulty the door was reopened. Those who had been loitering outside were amazed to find the place empty, but they had to wait. It took about thirty minutes for the first to come out. He said that it had taken exactly one minute to extend the magnetic card; the rest of the time was spent with superfluous security and bureaucracy measures.
Bethlehem– Checkpoint 300: a big crowd awaited us outside the Rachel Passage. As we entered one of the two windows was closed and the soldier left for his break. All people outside were ordered by extremely uncouth security guards to move back and form lines. We protested the fact that at rush hour only one window was operating and then a kind-looking soldier appeared who called and like had happened before the policeman who is the commander of the terminal came down and opened the gate. Without any checking or investigation all men were let through at once and within a few minutes the place was deserted. We left but on the way out heard some more insults from the security guards.