Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
Hannah and I arrived to the checkpoint without any delay in the parking lot. The passage from the road to the checkpoint is clean and that’s already something nicer than usual. Those that sit outside and wait for transport greet us warmly and say it’s a quiet day. The place seems relatively quiet, few people are going through. A, from the Ecumenicals reports that it’s been like this all morning (they’ve been here since 4am), and on the Palestinian side there are no crowds nor is there any tension in the air.
Four stations (are these booths? Preferable to call them booths since the stations are outside) next to the cement barriers and watchtowers) are working regularly. One turnstile was broken but after we told the guard, it was quickly repaired. Police representatives try to urge us past the entrance gate but we hold our ground and at the end, they give up.
Suddenly there is nervous rustling in the crowd. A man lost his ID and requests a passage authorization. As anticipated, he is refused and told to return back.
Now there are three open positions due to fewer people passing through. We chat with a soldier who is guarding the facility and get a frustrating description of the insufferable crowds on other days - unlike the efficiency and order that we are witnessing today. He says, confidently, that there is a plan that will regulate the crowds and on all passage authorization the exact time will appear on the permit/ID. “They come whenever they want and not at the designated time. That creates the crowding and tension. If they only adhered to the specified time it would be faster and easier.” We checked with two people who exited the checkpoint and confirmed that yes, the hour of passage was recorded on the permit/ID. The soldier expresses empathy for the young soldiers at the positions and reminds us that none of these “kids” really want to be here but they have no choice, etc. etc.
We tried, carefully, to deepen the discussion but it became very clear that the fixation on “it’s all on me” was so embedded that it was pointless to attempt a discussion in this situation.
Some people approach us with requests to investigate the situations of their relatives who are prohibited passage and we inform them of the stages required to remove/cancel the prohibition.
The passage of workers is almost nil and we leave for the Etzion DOC where a number of people are waiting for us.
Etzion District Coordination Office (DCO)
10 men and two women are waiting for us to investigate their official status, the reason for their not being allowed to enter Israel and request to rescind this. In spite of Sylvia’s absence today we try to give an answer, as much as possible. We direct them to Haya and approach the DOC people for explanations onsite. There haven’t been any especially unusual cases, but one must be aware that every usual “case” that is refused a work permit – contains the story of large families who have been living for months and years in poverty. Every refusal distances and diminishes the hope for a slightly better future and reinforces the feeling of misery.
We leave the DOC for Jerusalem.