Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 28.11.10, Afternoon
Bethlehem Checkpoint 300, 15:00: one station open, very few people and their passage is swift.
Etzion DCL, 15:30: the parking lot is full and so is the waiting hall. The weekly familiar scene: over 2 scores of people huddled by the turnstile. A woman we already know from previous weeks of waiting in line, greets us beaming. She has finally managed to achieve the next to impossible - to renew her magnetic card, and she is elated even though 5 members of her family are still squashed in the queue. As usual, people claim they have been waiting since the morning, that no one has been let in for a long while, but as we begin to text the commander D., the soldier behind the window opens the turnstile and lets 12 people in! Some of those waiting patiently in the seats hasten to join the queue so that it does not seem to shorten.
In the mean while, we are approached by people with the usual problems: a 44 year old man, the father of 3, who claims to have an Israeli employer but is unable to remove his GSS ban; a merchant whose traveling abroad is denied; and a man who hands us his ID and request form for a magnetic card and gets angry when we explain that we cannot go in and secure it for him.
Over half and hour has gone by and there is no change. Amongst those exiting having been serviced, we don't recognize any of the people that were let in after our arrival, meaning the office inside is still full.
At 16:30 the soldier at the window declares no more for today. People should go home. Angry voices are heard again, but some still hoping continue to crowd against the turnstile.
2 men, one very young, the other crippled, are in need of a permit so as to be at Mukassed hospital tomorrow. We manage to communicate with the soldier who is willing to let them in and have to persuade those still queuing to let them through. Same goes for a very pregnant young woman though she only needs a magnetic card. All the others will have to come back again next week.
Bethlehem Checkpoint 300, 17:30: quite a lot of people outside the terminal hall but by the time we park the car the line has dispersed and they are all through. 2 stations open.