Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
Due to Ronit’s illness I begin the shift alone. Outside I hear from the people sitting on the fence, waiting for their ride, that "Today is ever so slightly better than last week". This already is slightly encouraging. If you recall last week's terrible scenes (as Ronit reported in detail) it was really a horrible Sunday, crowded and humiliating for the thousands passing through the checkpoint. Today, for some reason, the situation is completely different, the flow of people passing is especially sparce and there are no delays.
Maybe because I'm new, just about two months at the checkpoints, I am still hit by the sad and humiliating scene of the daily routine of the mass of men young and old, of all classes and styles of dress, from elegant suits to worn T-shirt and jeans, who rapidly march from the inspection windows at the checkpoint through a dirty, fenced alley on their way to another chance of a work day. The belts, that the men were forced to remove during inspection, are still in their hands while they are maneuvering in an attempt to restore their dignity and appearance, quickly walking to the bus while threading back the belt in their pants. Most of them are already exhausted this morning, after hours of waiting, standing in lines at the checkpoint at dawn, yet quite a few smile and greet us for being there, watching them and documenting their situation. Meeting our eyes restores for them for a moment their personal identity, non-transparent men even with dangling belts...
There are, of course, a few women who pass through the checkpoint every morning, but somehow their appearance doesn’t broadcast that much distress and vulnerability as the men. And maybe it is all in the eye of the beholder.
06.45 Three - four windows are open intermittently but there is no line and no waiting. It is strange that it’s so empty today.
06:55 Sylvia arrives while Hannah is still looking for a parking spot. A new problem is created: starting today we are not allowed to park in the checkpoint’s parking lot. It may be another attempt to make our presence here more difficult, in view of the approaching winter. Along the roads around there are no places where parking is allowed - we'll have to think of a solution. Trying to understand the new instruction the parking lot attendant explained the reason "there is vehicle theft by Arabs so one might sue the checkpoint authority if it happened"... Did you get it, dummy? Hearsay is that a new commander has arrived.
Meanwhile Hannah A. joins us; the situation in the hall is still quiet most of the time. At the few moments when more people gather in the hall, the soldiers rush to open the extra gate, where they merely glance at the permits and allow for a quick passage. We learn from the people that on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint there are hardly any people.
07.20 The situation is unchanged and we leave a little earlier than usual on our way to Etzion DCO.
Etzion DCO 07:30
At the DCO, as usual, men are waiting for us with applications for removing restrictions regarding work permits. As usual we help all of them, and Sylvia is required to repeatedly explain to the soldiers at the DCO why there is no need to send the applicants to Beit El when they apply to work at the settlements. It seems that no one has yet instructed the soldiers how to properly implement the IDF guidelines that frequently change.
09.40 Having assisted all those who addressed us this morning we leave.