Etzion DCL, Mon 11.7.11, Morning

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Yael I., Ruth O. (reporting)

Etzion DCL, 8:00 – 11:00 AM:  we decided to hold successive shifts during all the working hours of the DCL as per Hanna B.’s suggestion and to check exactly what happens. This is especially important on Mondays which is the day reserved for the residents of Bethlehem and is the busiest day of the week.

Upon our arrival already a few dozen Palestinians were waiting at the entrance to the waiting hall. A few minutes later a military vehicle arrived and an officer (a Major) accompanied by a girl-soldier got off. Even before getting out of their car the officer shouted at all the waiting men to move back to behind the concrete slabs. And he didn’t get out before they had all moved.

We had meanwhile found out that someone had prepared a list according to the time of each individual arrival; some had already been there since 5:00 o’clock in the morning. We tried to inform the officer, whose name was Eyal, about this list, but his only reaction was not to disturb him in his work and that he was not interested in any lists.

Meanwhile the girl soldier handed out numbers according to a line randomly determined by the officer. Only after about ten minutes the person who had prepared the list was allowed to read out the names on his list, so that they could receive a number. After 65 numbers had been handed out the people were allowed into the waiting hall, which, it should be noted, was clean and air-conditioned.

Twenty women were allowed inside immediately with no connection to the numbers at all. At 8:55 AM the first woman exited in possession of a magnetic card! After her a woman who had been refused, we were unable to find out why. From then on all came out happily through the turnstiles. Until 11:00 AM 23 people had received their magnetic cards – mostly women.

Other events worthwhile:  the queue on the stairs leading to the turnstiles was total havoc; pushing, shouting and anger in general. Women, whenever they arrive get preferential treatment, both by the Palestinians and the army – both cause anger.

Some men enter through the turnstiles on the left and remain there only for a short while. They hand in their ID’s and are sent to the Security. None of them exited during our stay. In a few cases we thought our assistance was required: a blind woman, a woman with a heart condition and a woman who already had received her magnetic card, but discovered a mistake on it. We managed to catch the eyes of the soldier at the window and they entered immediately. Meanwhile all the time new people arrive and manage to squeeze inside without any connection to the line and the numbers that had been handed out in the morning.

At some point when the pushing at the turnstiles became really problematic, an officer (Major Danny?) came out accompanied by a guard and started shouting to install order. When we tried to ask him something he said that he was unwilling to talk to us. Then he changed his tone and shed his frustration to one of us, stating: “Yes, you think only we are guilty, look around you – they behave like beasts...”

We should add that during our stay we met quite a few Israelis; two contractors who tried to enter through the back entrance without success to ask for employees, an ultra-religious man who walked around the parking lot, a girl who looked like a settler and had no idea where she had landed – she apparently was looking for the police - and a group of youngsters who remained a couple of minutes and told us that we were doing a good job when they left. Were they activists following the ‘one complaint a day’ project of Ronit which focused on the Etzion DCL that morning?

The conclusions of these successive shifts will have to be drawn after the receipt of the two other reports.