Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL

Sylvia P. Hannah A. Goni Z. Ronit D. Translating: Naomi Gal

Bethlehem Checkpoint (Ronit reports)

6:25 - As soon as I entered the parking lot I noticed our Palestinian acquaintance, who was sitting outside with his friends, which means the passage went well today. Indeed, they acknowledge it, unlike last week when it was terrible. According to them it wasn’t the electrical failure that caused the pressure, but the attitude of the soldiers, as they put it "enjoyed seeing us like this." Anyway they all welcome the fact that today is a good day and greet us with a ‘Have a good week’.

6:30 - Inside five windows are operating, the hall is full but the passage speed is reasonable. R. from Sweden, one of the ecumenical, says they have been here since 4 o'clock in the morning; one of them stands on the Palestinian side and the other passes to the Israeli side. He says that at 4 AM there were already about 200 people waiting to pass, for about 20 minutes the passage was halted, and they don’t know why. Afterwards they again let people pass and he too agrees that the passage today is reasonable. 
A man says that one of the people who turned to Sylvia for help in removing prevention was taken from his home last night. He gives us the telephone number of the detainee's wife.

At one point the soldier began to pass people through the gate between the windows, but the security guards made sure that only people aged 40 and over and women would pass there, young people were returned to the lines in front of the windows. We did not understand what happened today, since usually they let everyone pass through that gate. It bothered us that the security guards (from a private company) operated the soldier, who seemed quite embarrassed when they returned the young people back to the lines. So who in fact runs the checkpoint, soldiers or policemen who run the security guards? In any case the pressure decreased and the gate closed. We heard that on the Palestinian side, too, not many people were left.

6:50 - one of the windows closed, and the partition separating the first four windows from the others, closed. There is no need for more windows.


Etzion DCO (Goni reports)

8.00 already at the parking lot we are surrounded by many people seeking help with their problems with the Civil Administration, especially in matters of removing prevention of entry to Israel and receiving work permits.

We listen to every problem and explain to each person according to his problem. As usual people find it difficult to bring the necessary paperwork for submitting their application to DCO. This morning, only four out of the many applicants obtained the papers, which are a primary requirement, and we were able to fill for them the application forms in Hebrew, which they will submit with the necessary documents at the window manned by a soldier. They will receive an answer only two months later. To the rest we re-explained patiently, often with the help of a volunteer interpreter, what are the up-to-date requirements, what are the chances to get a permit and under what conditions. Presumably they will come again to meet us when they’ll obtain the necessary documents. 
We left close to 10 o’clock.