Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL, Sun 27.10.13, Morning

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Silvia P. Gony Z. Ronit D. (Reporting), Translation Naomi Gal

Bethlehem Checkpoint 
6:50 - We arrive to the Israeli side of the checkpoint. 
People outside tell us that the passage was fine today, and say that last week Sunday was okay but Monday was very bad. 
6:55 – the hall is pretty empty. Three windows are open and there are not many people.  Policeman A. arrives from the Palestinian side of the checkpoint and tells us we arrived late, everyone already passed and his work there is done for today. He estimates that approximately 6,000 people passed. We go out with him to the path that leads to the checkpoint and see that in the last few minutes, there too everything emptied. Everyone has left for work. The path leading to the checkpoint is clean, they make sure it’s clean, but it is filthy all around. The municipality does not clean there. A. tells us that only when there is a VIP visit they come from the municipality to clean up the area around the checkpoint. 
7:15 - Only two windows are open and there are hardly any people. 
7:20 - One window remains open and that's enough, because there are only a few people.  We conclude that next week we will try and arrive earlier. 
7:25 - we left. A stop for acquiring olive oil and olives from Jamila at the entrance to Husan and from there to Etzion DCO.


Etzion DCO 
8:10 – there is some confusion at the DCO today. The machine that issues numbers, and is intended to assist and arrange the queue, is once again causing problems. The machine does not issue numbers, but the soldiers adamantly insist that it works. People do not know their number, but on the soldier’s computer monitor the details probably appear, so they call people by their names. Later the machine’s screen went completely dark.  The soldiers still claim it is working, but people do not understand how this is possible. Stress and lines are created, until the soldiers realize that indeed the machine is out of order and they let people in without numbers. The machine was still out-of-order by the time we left.

Handling people inside is also problematic today. An older man (over 60) arrives wanting to remove prevention so that he could pray at Al - Aqsa Mosque. We prepared the application and he went in, but they refused to take his application. Silvia calls the DCO and explains to the woman-soldier on the other side that according to the procedures people above the age of 60 are allowed to enter not only for work purpose. The soldier asks that the man return to the window. The man goes in again and this time his application is accepted. Let’s hope it will be granted...

In another case, a person who submitted a request to remove prevention in order to get permission to work in one of the settlements is sent away without accepting his application.  The argument: the employer has to contact the center of permits at Biet-El. Silvia calls again and explains to the soldier at the DCO that a letter from the employer is enough for working in the settlements, and even when it’s about working in Israel the employer has to contact the Ministry of Labor in Israel to ask for permission and receive a written refusal, and not from Beit-El. (Meaning: a reactions report for requiring permits are only given at the request of employers in Israel from the Labor Ministry in Israel and not from the Civil Administration in the territories). The soldier inside did not even know this and so people are given the runaround in vain. The soldier says she’ll consult officer R.  In another conversation with Silvia the soldier says the man can come in again but she will check if the letter is okay. Eventually the man goes in and submits the documents.

Sending people to Beit-El repeats itself week after week. Probably the fact that the instruction was imposed by “Beit-El" is interpreted as if the employers have to apply to Beit-El.  It is hard to avoid the impression that these complex rules are designed to minimize the ability to submit applications for the removal of preventions. It turns out that not only employers and Palestinian employees find them difficult to understand, but the soldiers as well are having a hard time grasping these instructions. And so people are given the runaround back and forth. And what happens to all the people who try to file documents when we are not at the DCO to talk to the soldiers?

9:10 - Silvia travels to Alon-Shvut in order to pay a penalty for one of the people who gave her the required money and the form.

9:30 - Silvia returns with the signed form. The fine was paid. We left.