Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
Bethlehem Checkpoint (the Israeli side)
06:25 – Today I arrived earlier than usual and got to watch a spectacular sunrise on my way to the CP. There is not yet light outside, street lamps are still on including the remaining Christmas lights (currently it is the Feast of the Epiphany celebrated by various Christian denominations. Most likely by next week they will take down the holiday lights). Outside of the checkpoint there are many people and cars. I make my way through dozens of men and think to myself that until recently, before I began going out to the checkpoint and to the DCO and came into contact with Palestinians, I was afraid to do so.
06:30 – Inside, three windows are operating, plus an officer lets people pass outside the window, after browsing the permits (as we have seen done when they open the gate between the windows). There is no pressure and after a short while the officer returns to the window. It seems that today the situation is good; people are passing with their belts in hand or while they are putting them back in their pants, indicating they did not wait long between the scanner and the window. One elderly man was detained: he is summoned to GSS in a few days; meanwhile he is not allowed to pass. I gave him Sylvia’s phone number.
06:40 – A quiet morning. The hall is almost empty; only a trickle of people who pass immediately. Some of them greet us. The soldiers and the security guards are relaxed too and in a good mood, and they joke around on the two-way radio. Only two windows are active now, but it's enough. In one of the windows the computer is not functioning, so they settle for presenting the permit through the window, no fingerprints nor computer checking.
06:50 - Another window opens. At a certain point a man arrives whose fingerprint cannot be read by the computer. The officer comes out and cleans the place where one lays ones’ finger with a flannel cloth. Now it works, and the man passes. Also one of the people we saw detained for a long time two weeks ago, passed today without delay.
07:05 - Sylvia arrives and as if for her sake the hall fills to capacity for the first time since I arrived this morning. One of the security guards tells us that this morning over 8,000 people had already passed. Y. the boy who had a kidney transplant and his mother are passing and we are happy to see them. Y. has grown and looks good and his mother reports that he is feeling well. As usual people turn to Sylvia: those she already helped and those who need help for relatives and friends.
07:30 - We left.
08:10 - Etzion DCO
Hanna joins us in DCO. There are a lot of people. The machine issuing numbers is working. We helped people prepare applications and they went inside. Those who did not have a letter that says explicitly that the job is in the settlements – were unable to submit applications, although we clearly stated in the applications that the permit is needed for the territories. They are also required to bring a "Comments Report for permit request" that the employer gets. We guided them how to get the report, or to ask the employers to stipulate in a letter that the work is in the settlements. We told those who did not have the right documents which documents to bring. In one case we contacted Yael S. on behalf of a woman who needed a permit in order to visit a patient in Mukasad Hospital.
09:15 - We left.