Bethlehem (300), Hebron DCO
Bethlehem Checkpoint (300)
06.35 On the way to the checkpoint our acquaintances are sitting on the stone wall and they greet us in high spirits. Today is a good day, they smile, everything is going wonderfully. The way to the checkpoint is overflowing with clouds of choking cigarettes smoke and there is a lot of litter on the path. Inside the hall gray order, cleanliness and coldness, physical and metaphorical, reigns. Indeed, unusually, there are only a few people in the departure hall, and everybody passes through without delay. The four gates are open and are functioning properly.
06.45 Time passes, and still all is quiet on this side of the checkpoint. Many of those who enter nod their heads smiling and waving goodbye and some are happy to report that on the side of the entrance to the checkpoint too, everything today runs quietly and efficiently, probably because only a few people arrived. It is not clear to them or to us what is the reason for the small number of people passing today, perhaps they were apprehensive to leave in view of the weather forecast that predicted an overcast and rainy day.
06.55 The calm crumbles at some points, when a man without a permit begs the soldiers to let him pass "just today". As expected, his plea is not answered and he has to go back home. The question wafts\ suspends in the air - what was he expecting? The hall now is almost empty. Two gates close and two remain open to go on checking the few that will arrive later.
07.15 No change, now and then ten-twenty people accumulate and pass smoothly. A disabled man arrives with a walker and his companions on their way to the hospital. Ronit starts a conversation with them and informs them about the possibility of using the shuttles.
07:35 Thus a quiet morning shift comes to an end and we leave on our way to Etzion DCO.
07:50 Before the doors are opened (at 08:00) we are already talking with many of the people impatiently waiting for us in the parking-lot. We scheduled ahead of time with 3-4 people who have the necessary documents and indeed they showed up. We advanced those- we filled applications for them for removal of the restriction and they submitted them at the window of the DCO. The procedure is that they get a “Wassel” (receipt) with the expected date for an answer, which is always "Saharien” (two months). Later, we go on monitoring to ensure that the case is indeed being handled, and finally we notify the applicants of the decision in their case and guide them about the next step, if necessary. Many of the people who are here today are not equipped with the required paperwork. We explain again what they have to bring in order to meet the requirements which are updated every time. It should be noted that the great majority does not speak Hebrew but there is always someone who volunteers to patiently translate our explanations into Arabic over and over again to each applicant.
10:00 It seems as if we finished and we leave toward our cars on the way home, but even in the parking lot people who just arrived approach us with questions and it is difficult not to respond.