Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL, Sun 1.9.13, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
06:50 We arrive at the Israeli side of the Bethlehem checkpoint.
The waiting room on the Israeli side is more crowded and congested than usual. Five lanes are operating. A soldier also helps ease the pressure by admitting people through the gate between the lanes. The revolving gate at the late closest to us has been fixed. We meet Luther, from the Philippines, one of the Ecumenicals (the EAPPI). This is the first we’ve met them since Ramadan.
07:10 It’s as if there had never been any congestion; the hall is now almost empty. The gate has closed but the five lanes are still open. Y., the policeman, joins the soldier and security guard but the three of them have nothing to do. But suddenly the soldier at one of the lanes wants to bring back someone who’s already gone through. They run after him, make him wait at the inspection station. The soldier says he told him to wait but he went through (we note that in order for him to go through the soldier must release the revolving gate to allow him through). He’s now waiting to be inspected again; we saw him then taken inside for interrogation. We couldn’t find out why.
07:15 Even though there’s no congestion a female soldier again opens the gate between the lanes. From the Palestinian side we hear the loudspeaker announcing which lanes are open.
As usual people occasionally approach Sylvia who need help obtaining permits or in getting relatives and friends removed from security blacklists.
07:20 L., a Christian Palestinian woman, greets us and says that the Miriam holiday celebrated last week in Bethlehem was a success. We meet Y, a boy, who’d had a kidney transplant in Beilenson hospital, and his mother. Y.’s using a face mask again, but looks alright. His mother tells us that the humanitarian gate is closed and many wait for it to open. Sylvia talks to Y., the policeman, who say’s the humanitarian gate is supposed to be open until 07:20, but immediately radios to ask it to be opened.
Luther already left and now Esther, from Switzerland, arrives, also from the Ecumenicals. She said they came back two weeks ago. She says Wednesday was very congested; today’s OK. She also told us that when she came to the Israeli side earlier this morning she was asked to stand outside.
07:25 A boy with a bicycle wants to return to Bethlehem. He’s sent to the vehicle crossing; we help explain where it is. Lane 5 closes.
07:30 The hall is almost empty. Esther, from the Ecumenicals, is told that the Palestinian side is also empty. We left and drove to the Etzion DCO. We stopped at the entrance to Husan to meet with Jamila, her son Subhi and one of her grandchildren, a brief conversation and getting olive oil before continuing to the DCO. People approach Sylvia for help here as well; she gives her phone number and Chaya’s.
08:10 People wait at the DCO for help submitting requests to cancel security blacklisting. Some had made appointments with Sylvia in advance and sent her the relevant documents. We fill them out and they enter to submit them. They also provide Sylvia with a power of attorney who then finds out whether the applications are being dealt with, and later what the answer is.
09:10 We leave, wish one another a happy new year. Would that we not be needed next year…