15.00 – 15.45 It was a short watch, as some had later commitments.
As we arrived, a young man approached and showed us a letter from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, asking for a permit for him to work on maintenance at a church school in Jerusalem. He had previously been referred by the Etzion DCO to the Palestinian one. But the Palestinians sent him back to Etzion, where he was once again refused. After a few phone-calls, when we were passed from official to official, an authoritative-sounding voice told us adamantly that, because it was a work-related request, it had to be presented (first?) to the Palestinian DCO.
During our short time there, three people came in, separately, to get magnetic cards (although normally magnetic cards are not issued on Tuesday). Each, while standing at the carousel, called out his/her identity number and was immediately admitted. Clearly the soldier had a list that he was checking against. Later, one of the men told us that they were people who weren't admitted the previous day before 5 o’clock closing time, because of the crowds. So an officer (he indicated the “big something on his shoulder”) took down their ID numbers and told them to return on Tuesday. I have to say that this is better treatment than I have seen in the past, when applicants would have to wait a full week until “their” day.
Interestingly, the man who told us this also complained about the machine where applicants now register when they arrive. He said the old system was fairer – when applicants made their own handwritten list. According to him, now people were called from inside by number, and not always in order of their arrival. He claimed there was a system of preference by which Palestinian DCO officials call through to the Israelis, giving the numbers of their friends waiting in the Etzion station!