Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
06:40 We arrive on the Israeli side of the Bethlehem Checkpoint. It is cold but not rainy today. The hall is full. Five stations are open and it appears that the passage through is smooth, without any problems. One of our acquaintances approaches and says everything’s all right today. But immediately after that the pressure increases and we begin to hear shouting. From all around we hear orders through the loudspeaker: “Stop the flow”, and other orders.
06:55 Now those passing through complain about the pressure at the crossing. Hannah joins us and tells us that outside they told her that on Thursday, when it was raining, it was awful. The roof on the Palestinian side was leaking and rain soaked those who were waiting in lineget
07:00 Y., a child with a kidney transplant, goes through with his mother. A blind man and his escort pass. There is tension and shouting in the hall. Again, through the speakers, stop the “flow”, and attempts by the soldiers to get the line moving one after the other. Those who exit complain and report that on the Palestinian side it’s crowded and stifling. Even L., a Christian Palestinian from Beit Jalla, who usually refrains from criticizing the soldiers, reports that there’s a big mess and is worried about what will happen during the upcoming Christmas holidays.
07:05 The pressure continues. Hannah calls the DCL and requests that the gate between the clerks be opened to ease the pressure. Nothing happens.
07:10 The pressure continues. The security guard says that there is no soldier from the DCL who is authorized to open the gate. She phones again. This time to the Humanitarian HQ. Soon after an officer comes out from behind the clerks and opens the gate. Immediately there is a rush to the gate. On the speakers they request not to push and an officer requests, “slowly, slowly.”
The opening of the gate helps and within a short time the pressure is eased. On the speakers at the other side, we hear “Continue the flow.” It's a pity that the gate wasn’t opened before –it would have been so easy to ease the suffering for so many people.
07:25 The hall empties. The gate closes. We are told that on the Palestinian side there are also no people. We leave.
08:00 Etzion DCO
There are lots of people. We try to help whenever possible. To some we give Haya’s phone number (for “Police Restricted”), or instruct them which forms to prepare and give Sylvia’s FAX number. One man bought a car and an Israeli tow truck brought him to the checkpoint. There he was to meet another Palestinian tow truck. In the middle of it all, a policeman arrived, suspected that the car was stolen and confiscated it. Now he will have to run around to prove that the car was legally purchased. In the meantime a more urgent problem arises: the house keys were left in the car. We advise him to go to the closest police station, in the hope that he will at least get his keys back today. The machine doesn’t work; people are not entering. Only after Hannah calls, the soldier checks and verifies that the machine doesn’t function and therefore it’s impossible to issue numbers.
09:10 We left in the hope that people would be allowed to enter and present their requests.