Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 30.10.11, Morning

Sylvia P., Hanah A. (reporting)
Note : the report includes a special visit to a GSS (1)  - denied man

07.15  Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300:

Some people report a long wait, others are pleased.  Perhaps the latecomers profited from smaller queues. Three inspection windows are open; a man asks us for help for his sister-in-law, who was born in Gaza and wants to visit her relatives. We promised to send him the telephone number of the “Gisha”  organization who may be able to help.


08.05  Etzion DCL:

About twenty people are waiting outside although the door of the waiting hall is already open. Inside, there are only six women and one young fellow. When all the women have gone in, the men are allowed to enter the hall. Everything is managed in an orderly fashion with a list of those waiting.  During the next half hour more people arrive but none come out. However, we are on our way to the visit to the GSS-denied man.

The place is to the South in the Hebron area, and takes about an hour, including a wait for our host and the journey to his house. Another man, who knows us and is also GSS-denied, joins us. The length of our stay is about an hour and a half.

We are invited into the new living-room, where there are three couches along the walls, a television and in the middle an empty space. Our host is very proud of his living-room furniture, which he built himself in the second floor of his house. The family lives on the first floor where there is also the kitchen. On the living-room floor there is also a roomy new bathroom. It is obvious that the children do not spend their time on this floor. There are eight children, the youngest of whom is six weeks old. The man’s wife is not at home at this stage.

The conversation is mainly between the two men and Sylvia.  According to our host, who is about 40-45 years old, he appealed to the law-court, was not rejected, but was promised twice that his case would be favourably reviewed in another year’s time..  

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(1)   GSS :General Security Service.  GSS denied people cannot get a permit to work in Israel and are unable to earn a decent living. (They are often victims of trumped-up charges to persuade them to cooperate with the GSS as informers – translator)

The second time has not yet arrived, and he says that he doesn’t know what the charge against him is.

His friend, who joined him, is a professional driver, about sixty years old; he has a long history with the General Security Service, which in brief is that he has been a GSS-denied person for ten years. How does he nevertheless manage to make a living ? He owns a coffee-house – cum -  restaurant in the village and he somehow manages to make a profit from it.  Two or three of his children are university graduates, one of them who is a psychologist works with him in the restaurant.  His daughters are also studying at university, and he himself speaks excellent Hebrew. He expresses himself very fluently and relates to us the story of their lives from full employment with a decent salary (in Israel) until his situation now in which he supports the family only with great difficulty.

After three-quarters of an hour, our host’s wife with her new-born babyinfo-icon joins us. Now we speak English, because – in spite of her eight children – her child-bearing, and looking after her family, she succeeded in completing her university studies in the English department of the foreign languages faculty.  She is qualified to teach English in school, but will have to wait until the baby is weaned, a matter of two years. She tells us  that “it is written in our holy Koran that mothers must nurse their children for at least two years”. In spite of her relatively young age – about 40 – she has three grown-up daughters,two of them older than twenty and one is eighteen.

The two oldest ones are studying at a university; one of them is at the international university where she is taking Arab language studies, and the second one in Hebron is studying hotel management. She, the second one – is “a fighter”, her mother says.  

It is a not-so-mediocre Palestinian family.

As is customary hospitality here, we are persuaded to partake of cake, coffee, almonds, fruit-juice, etc, and our hosts are surprised that we won’t stay for lunch, and won’t also spend more time with them after all this. Only with great difficulty can we persuade them that we must go home in time to attend to all our other commitments. Once again, he drives in front of us to guide us to the main-road. In the middle of the journey he stops at a sweet-shop and and brings  each of us a big box of chocolates (of Turkish manufacture) “for your children and grand-children” as a farewell gesture.

It was worthwhile . . . .