Beit Ummar, Etzion DCL, Sun 27.3.11, Afternoon
Etzion DCL, 15:15 pm: the parking lot is packed with cars and c. 25 men and women in the waiting room, probably reflecting the fact that the office was closed the previous week (Purim).
On the parking lot we encounter a young Jewish Israeli man who is there to represent/assist his fellow Palestinian, a resident of Beit Ummar. The Palestinian's family owns lands in the area, of which 60 dunam (=15 acres) have recently been confiscated for the building of a Schul/yeshiva or the like at the far end of Efrata. The two have been attempting to get hold of maps to have proof of the family's land ownership. In their search for land registration maps, they have already been referred to the Civil Administration in Beit El, from there back to Etzion DCL, and so on. Nobody seems to be able (or willing) to provide them the data they require. We made a brief phone call to Channa B., who will refer them to a more reliable address.
Another man turns to us: his brother is in Hadassah Hospital following a car accident, both legs amputated. The family members wish to renew their permits in order to visit him, but all their requests have been refused. The man who speaks to us seeks our assistance in obtaining permits at least for his parents and the patient's wife. We eventually advised him to return once again with another letter from the hospital but with different dates. However, as we attend to him, at 15:45 pm it turns out that:
1. the phone number of the military humanitarian hotline (which appears, in the DCL waiting room, as the number of the reception office) leads to the operation center; that is, the humanitarian hotline, operations room, and reception are now all one office and one and the same soldier on the other end of the line.
2. similarly, no answer at the medial coordinator's office of the civil administration.
Inside the DCL, following our persistent requests for some coordination through the intercom, some 15 people were admitted into the office one by one. Around 16:30 there were still 12 people in the waiting room awaiting admission. Our routine of handing to the soldiers a list of those present in order to make sure they are admitted the following morning was refused without permission from a commanding officer. A phone call to the DCL chief revealed that he is away for the week.
Among those left is a man (prob. in his 40s), whose wife was killed 4 years ago by the Border Police (shot in the neck), wishing to file a lawsuit; a young man who studies engineering in Canada and must attend "this fiasco", to use his term, every year; an high ranking water administrator; and 3 women with their spouses. All decide to leave and return another day (because even if they are admitted today, their matters will not be handled before 5pm, at which time they would be thrown out anyways).
On the other hand, we do manage to persuade a soldier via the intercom to let in a father in need of permits for his 2 daughters to attend an appointment at the American Consulate. Only 4 people remain, whose optimism pays off: at the very last minute they are admitted as the soldier's "favor of good will" (humiliation takes on a variety of forms). Finally, it was the taxi driver from the parking lot who managed to get through the last man waiting. We leave the premises at 17:15 pm, at which time nobody was sent out of the DCL without a permit.
Al-Arub, Beit Ummar, 17:30 pm: we had information about closure in Beit Ummar and so we drive down there. At the southern entrance to Al-Arub the yellow gate is open, but there is a military jeep and two armed soldiers are searching every in- and outgoing car as well as two youngsters wishing to enter the village. In Beit Ummar, the lower entrance to the village is open and cars keep coming out, while the upper entrance is blocked with a yellow barrier, although pedestrians can go through uninterrupted. Unusually so, all is abandoned around the gas station, shops are closed, not a soul to be seen.