When we arrived just after 14.00 there were already 20 cars in the parking lot and at least 40 people inside and out of the waiting room. Though more people arrived, it is doubtful that most of them even made it into the DCO itself and of those who did, few are likely to have had their requests honoured. In fact all three of us at various times went out to the exit area of the DCO and not one of us received an affirmation of those exiting that they had come out with the documents that they needed.
It is worth mentioning the problem which those who came for magnetic cards met with. It was a situation both absurd, enfuriating for the Palestinians and embarrassing for us as Israelis.. Most people who needed magnetic cards were told to come back in another month or so BECAUSE THE ARMY DOES NOT HAVE THE PLASTIC WITH WHICH TO MAKE THESE CARDS. So it was possible to renew cards but not to issue new ones. Unbelievable in a country which prides itself on its inventions not onely from the military point of view but agriculture, medicine, chemistry, physics and Waze!
The numbers (different series according to which “department” the people were intending to go to) on the computer screen did not change and in fact seemed totally irrelevant to what was happening on the ground.. We took pictures to show the passing of time and the unchanging numbers. The three elderly ladies in the front row said that they had been there since 9am and needless to say, departed empty handed.
At least 4 men told us that soldiers had arrived at 3 and 4 in the early hours of the morning to roust them from their beds and give them orders to come to the secret service for immediate interrogation the next morning. One even had papers which had been issued week after week. This was definitely urgent……in fact so urgent that they arrived at 9am and when we left at close to 5 had been told to come back the next day.
The soldiers did not seem to know what they should be doing. One woman soldier told Chana she could give her no information, nor could she make any of her own decisions without speaking to her captain – who was not there and unavailable by phone.. Whoever we phoned told us that they were “checking”. One soldier shouted at about 4pm that his advice was that everyone should come back the next day. This included a man who had been told to come the previous day, then been told that he should come today and was still not allowed in.
Eventually a well spoken and pleasant young captain who also spoke Arabic came out and explained that only extensions of magnetic cards would be granted but that new cards would only be granted in a month of so when ……one can only hope and pray…..the invention of plastic would be accomplished. We did however ask him why people had not been informed of this before. He said an announcement had been made in the morning and tomorrow they would make announcements every couple of hours through the day so that at least people would not be wasting the entire day in useless waiting.. Would it have been so hard for the soldiers to have made such announcements or may we even propose the revolutionary idea of ….hold your breath……we only say this in a whisper….that a printed announcement in Arabic …be posted in the DCO.
We went home as despairing as the Palestinians…….but we came home to an evening without soldiers bursting into our houses in the early hours of the morning and a day in which we could go about whatever plans we had as most normal people can.