Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Nabi Yunis, Mon 29.11.10, Morning
07:00 am, Bethlehem – Checkpoint 300: four booths are functioning. All is quiet. Passage is fast and efficient.
07:50 am, Etzion DCL: scores of people are grouped outside, holding a waiting list of some sixty. For some this is a repeated visit. People reported that often only one booth was open to attend to the magnetic cards and last week less than 20 had reached the 'magnetic counter'.
08:10 am: an officer and a soldier came by to check the waiting hall and surroundings before opening. The officer drove away the crowd some 50 meters to the rear (see photo). He complied with my request to leave an elderly sick lady who could barely stand on her feet. At 08:20 am people were allowed to enter. The pressure and humiliation were unbearable. The soldier declared that today the order of the waiting list was not valid and was of no interest to him. Beyond the issue of rudeness and humiliation, the pressure increased.
08:30 am: people still crowding near the turnstile.
08:45 am: a woman-soldier shouted: "move back". They neither understood her order nor could they comply with it due to the pressure from the rear. She finally opened the turnstile but that required two more phone calls. Among those waiting was an elderly gentleman clad in an impeccable Ghallabiyah, Kaffiyeh and gilded glass frames. He timidly inquired in English why they weren't handing out numbers, thereby putting some order into the situation. Indeed, why not?
08:45 am: I implored of the woman-soldier to open up the till as people could not move. Two officers arrived. A stout captain ordered me to get out as I was disturbing their work. As I recognized the second officer as usually efficient and positive in working at CP300 I was hopeful that the situation would improve here too. Indeed, later we heard over the phone that numbers had been issued and the pressure eased. Indeed, why not?
09:00 am, Nabi Yunis:Our 'mobile office' operated for about an hour, answering various questions and assisting with varied matters.