Etzion DCL, Sun 30.1.11, Afternoon
Bethlehem – Checkpoint 300: we stopped there on our way in at 15:30 and on our way out at 17:00. Both times there were no queues, and passage was smooth and swift.
Etzion DCL, 15:45: the usual sight. Most of the people are crowding the turnstiles, a few are sitting inside or smoking outside. The soldier at the window is, as usual, "deaf and blind", his attention can only be obtained by phoning his commander. "Why don't you answer our calls?", we ask. "People are calling to me all the time", he answers. "Maybe they have a reason?" we suggest. Not to mention that this is his very demanding and professional job.
Only more phone calls help a pregnant woman enter outside the queue, or help getting the turnstile to admit a couple of people.
Contrary to what the soldier states, there are only 2-3 people inside. We beg to let those at the turnstiles wait inside. It is more comfortable, and it gives them a sense that they'll be helped today, rather than sent home at 4:30 unattended. The soldier is unyielding -- he'll let new people in only when the inside hall is empty, and then only one at a time. Why???
Another phone call, and the turnstile admits all the waiting people. We hear from others that today many people were admitted, and indeed it seems the DCL will be able to close on time (5pm) without turning back anyone. This should be the routine every day, it is NOT a "mission impossible". All they want is a magnetic card – which Israel wants them to have at least as much as they themselves want to have it.