Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL, Sun 18.11.12, Morning

Sylvia P., Chana A. (reporting). Charles K. (translating)

07:00 AM, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: many people wait outside for their rides to work.  It seems to us that the expressions on their faces are more somber than ever.  People were generally dissatisfied with the rate at which they crossed today; they said that the humanitarian lane wasn’t open.

07:30 AM,  Many people flow through; people on our side cross quickly.  Four booths are open.  Today a policewoman named Bat-El Nissim checks permits at the entrance to one of the crossing lanes that didn’t have a computer in order to speed up the process.  It went well and the line disappeared in a few minutes.

The EAPPI is represented by a young woman from Switzerland named Maria, and her Australian guest.  From time to time one of the people crossing gives her a slip of paper on which the EAPPI representative on the Bethlehem side of the checkpoint had written the time that person had arrived at that side.  At 07:35 Maria received a slip reading 07:03 - in other words, it took 32 minutes to go through.  That’s reasonable.  The checkpoint commander apparently became suspicious about that procedure and notified Chana B. that we – the women from Machsom Watch – are giving 20 shekel bills to some of those crossing today!  That’s what Chana told us on our way to the checkpoint today, even before we arrived.  How fanciful and ridiculous; there’s no end to the suspicions about what we represent.

When people had stopped going through the police-woman approached Maria and her guest, asking to see identification.  She suspects them of “anti-Israel” activity, because they’d been there for a full hour.  Sylvia explains they’d waited for us and that they’re not doing anything subversive.  They give their passports to the police-woman, she writes down the details and that’s the end of it.

The humanitarian crossing:  here’s the story today:  
The crossing opened at 05:00 and one woman went through.  It then closed for two hours and reopened at 07:00.  Only a few women subsequently crossed; older men weren’t allowed through that lane.

08:30 AM,  Etzion DCL:  few people in the waiting room today.  Ten people entered a few minutes after we arrived; five more sat waiting.  We spoke to Ibrahim, whose permit was confiscated this morning at Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300.  Sylvia asks what happened; it turns out that the permit, which was almost new, had been cancelled by the employer.

A few more people have been refused permits for security reasons.  One, a merchant, claims he’d been refused a permit because they claimed he’d worked in Israel when he’d been there with a commercial permit.  But because he’d undergone surgery in the summer of 2011 he’s unable to do physical labor and now he must prove he hadn’t been employed as a laborer.  Sylvia asks Sharon, from the Civil Administration to re-examine the file after Ibrahim submits additional material from the hospital.

We left a little before 10:00.