Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Tue 19.7.11, Morning
Bethlehem– Checkpoint 300 (Rachel’s Crossing ): the scene that we observe is the same as we have seen during the last month : many employers’ cars are standing at the road-side and waiting for their workmen. The comments at the entrance are tough : “ I have already been waiting for two hours” and “they treat us like sheep”. And worst of all, “my employer is leaving without me because he cannot (or does not) want to wait for workers who are late in coming out of the checkpoint”.
In the last hall, people go in one-by-one and the female soldiers wait for them to arrive. Five inspection stations are operating and their workers' behaviour is polite and patient. Later-on one of the stations is closed but that is not the problem causing the bottleneck at the exit.
We phone to the Humanitarian Center but don’t see any improvement on the ground. We also telephone to the officer in the civil administration and he tells us that he is not aware of any problem. But there is a problem : the Palestinians pass through the checkpoint extremely slowly. At the beginning (of our shift) only two windows are opened and the rate of processing is sluggish in the extreme.
At 07:20 the flow of people suddenly improves and the queues start to diminish: but what prevented the improved rate from existing at the beginning of the shift ?
08:10 Etzion DCL: The door is open but the many Palestinians who are waiting are standing in front of a pole which blocks their entry. When we approach, we see a different picture : an officer and a female soldier are standing at the front of the DCL ; one of the Palestinians calls out the name of the next-in-line and the officer gives him a number. There are about 80 people inside the DCL, and they have all come to renew their magnetic cards. Everything is air-conditioned and orderly – except for the sting-in-the-tail : the soldiers inside don’t succeed to issue enough magnetic cards for everyone who has come for renewal. Therefore many of the Palestinians have to return home empty-handed and they will only be able to return next Tuesday, hoping that then they will be able to achieve their aim. Of course, those who have come and have had to return lose days of work, mony for their transportation, or cancellation of their private activities. One of those waiting tells us that this is the third time he has come here for the same purpose. The first time, the magntic-card machines weren’t working. The next ime he received number 92, and he returned home. This time we give him Hana’s telephone number for reporting his case.