Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL

Sylvia P. Yaara R. Ronit D., Translation: Naomi Gal



Bethlehem Checkpoint

06:40 – Yaara and I plow our way among a mixture of many people and cars. Our acquaintance is not sitting in his usual place, and we already know it's not a good sign.

Inside 5 windows are operating as is the gate between the windows. On the face of it everything seems calm on this side of the checkpoint, but from the Palestinian side we hear shouting all the time. The soldiers on this side open and close the gate as needed, but the problem is on the other side. Even when the hall here is completely empty, shouting can still be heard on the other side, indicating crowdedness and frustration of those waiting to pass. Those who pass say that today is a very bad day, claiming that the soldiers delay the passage for no apparent reason.

07:00 – R. from Sweden arrives, a member of the Ecumenical, he says that when the checkpoint opened the soldiers checked documents and permits on the Palestinian side and this caused delays. At some point they stopped, but still the passage was slow and very crowded, pushing and shouting, people climbing on the paddocks and the like. It took him almost two hours to pass.

07:10 – Our acquaintance arrives only now. It is very late for him and he rushes off. "Crabby", "Messy", "War" – are the words we heard today from the people passing and this for no apparent reason. We are told they didn’t open the Humanitarian Gate and therefore women, the sick and the elderly had to be pushed and shoved in the regular line.

07:25 - Now the hall is full, a rare thing in this “late” morning hour, but at long last we don’t hear shouting from the other side, a sign that things calmed down a bit. One of the windows closes as well as the partition separating the first four windows from the others. Every now and then the security guard opens the gate to allow passage towards Bethlehem. Occasionally the officer also opens to allow entry into Israel and relieve the line crossing to Israel. A child who managed to "sneak" through one of the windows is caught by the security guard and is immediately turned back.

Meanwhile Sylvia is surrounded by people who seek her help, and even formed their own queue for that purpose.

07:40 - There are still people at this late hour, and again we hear shouts from the Palestinian side. We are told that outside school groups, probably on their way to field trips are waiting,.

07:45 – Only now it calms down and groups of students are beginning to arrive. A group of girls with white head-dress enter; they are excited and giggling. We leave in the direction of the DCO.


Etzion DCO

Not many people today at DCO. Apparently people thought it would be closed because of Purim holiday. Sylvia tries to help a man whose son was arrested and  he was told that he was  in Etzion. The man brought a change of clothes, cigarettes, etc., and tries to find a way to pass them to his imprisoned son.

Despite the small number of people, two that we helped fill applications to remove restrictions for security reasons were let in, did not come out until we left a little after 09:00. (From Hannah B.’s report that afternoon we learned that the reason is probably the fact that the computers collapsed and only one window operated.)