“Bethlehem Day” at DCO Etzion
15.00 When we arrived, once again the carpark was crowded, as was the waiting room. Almost all the people had come to renew their magnetic cards. A number of people showed us their numbered slips which showed they had arrived during the morning and were still waiting to be admitted. We also recognized and chatted with two men whom we had met last week but hadn’t then been admitted because the office closed early.
We followed the numbers as they appeared on the computerized screen and were struck by how slowly people were being admitted. This was particularly evident for those applying for magnetic cards. People who had come for special permits were admitted relatively quickly – but we were told that inside there was one service station dealing with both permits and magnetic cards. It seemed to us that requests for permits were getting priority.
We tried a few times to phone and speak to someone in charge but were told always “we know the situation and are doing what we have to do.” Shortly after 16.00, three people entered, confidently took numbers - and within a few minutes each was called in by name. This led to a lot of comment by the crowds (who had been waiting ‘patiently’ but with a lot of repressed anger) at the fact that these so obviously had ‘connections.’
At 16.40 we phoned again trying to get an officer to come to the waiting-room to see for himself the situation and perhaps to arrange for the many who clearly would not manage to be admitted today, at least to come the next morning, but this was refused. (We never did find out if there was indeed some one in charge.)
At 17.00 the office was closed. At this stage there were still 50 people in the waiting-room. Many just gave up, while about 20 crowded at the carousel still trying – unsuccessfully - to get attention. (“Let them come next week,” was the cool response of the soldier at the window.)
We don ‘t know if Mondays are particularly bad at the DCO. Perhaps it is because Bethlehem has a big population and so there are more applicants . But, if so, suitable arrangements MUST be made – either by increasing the number of soldiers on duty, or by spreading the service over two days. (At present no magnetic cards at all are issued on Tuesdays.) The situation as it is at present is intolerable.