Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
Bethlehem Checkpoint - Ronit reports:
6:30 - I arrived at the parking lot on my way to the Israeli side of the checkpoint. Many cars and people are outside. Our acquaintance says that today was fine, and in general, during the last few days because of the Christian Holidays they reinforced the checkpoint and the passage is smooth.
Inside the CP I meet J from EAPPI , who’s been here since 4 AM and she, too, reports that today everything runs smoothly. Through all this time they did not close the gates on the Palestinian side and did not stop the stream of people, so there were neither queues nor pressure. She said last Sunday was just awful, the worst she had seen in the three months she’s here. The crowdedness was terrible and on the Palestinian side it was hard to make one’s way from the parking-lot. Today as stated everything is okay. She gives the details of a person who was not allowed to pass to give to Sylvia who will investigate it further, and says goodbye.
5 windows are open and the passage is flowing. There is no pressure. At the gate between the windows two people who have been detained are waiting. Their documents are in the hands of the security guard who tells them to be patient, it will take time. A friend of B, one of them, who came to check on him, tells me that lately they detained B several times. Every time he waits for half an hour, and then they let him pass. It is unclear to him why he is detained; he was told that the computer says to detain him.
6:45 - window 5 closes and then also the partition separating the first four windows from the others. Four windows are still open, although the soldiers manning them are being replaced. The hall is filled occasionally, but no pressure is created and soon enough it empties again. One person asks for assistance for his friends whose employer did not pay them their due. I handed the phone of Kav Laoved (Employee Line).
The two detainees ask what’s going on. The security guard says he is inquiring and that they have to wait longer. I try to help, but B doesn’t remember his ID number (the security guard has the ID and he refuses to let him review it) and the other one does not want our help.
7:00 - Sylvia and Hannah arrive. When Sylvia calls the DCO the security guard relents and shows us the identity card of B, so that we can give the number. But A at DCO doesn’t know how to help and the Humanitarian Center did not help either. Meanwhile, another man was detained. When he realizes he had left his money in his ID card, the security guard returns the ID at once so that he can retrieve his money. They wait and then B and another man are sent back (Sylvia will try to find out later whether they have prevention and what kind) and then another one is taken in for questioning.
7:20 – the hall is empty.
7:30 – the hall is again full and meanwhile two windows were closed and only two remain open, but the passage flows without interruptions. On our way out we met the man who did not want our help and was taken for questioning. He eventually passed. He apologizes saying he was afraid it will damage him. We make it clear that we weren’t hurt and that our only goal is to help. We were glad that he was able to pass. Taking into account today’s results he may be right ... On our way out we noticed the sign of the Ministry of Tourism greeting the people arriving, that was hanged in the cars’ passage (attached is a picture). Apparently this was done for Christmas, when Christian tour buses pass on their way to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Sylvia and Hannah continue to DCO.
Etzion DCO - Sylvia reports:
8:10 - DCO was open and the machine issuing numbers worked. Likewise, there was the regular noise - after someone turned on the machine he was called in through loud metallic computerized Arabic voice. Probably people understand what this voice says, because after the announcement there is always someone who approaches the carousels. ..
Many people came with questions – GSS and police prevented. We explained what documents are needed to appeal for the removal of the prevention and we gave Haya’s number for police prevention. A man arrived with the appropriate documents, we filled his application form to remove security prevention, he filed it and they accepted.
9:10 - we left.