Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
06:25 – Already on the way, although there were a lot of people, it seemed as if there were fewer cars and it felt more at ease. Near the parking lot gardeners are unloading equipment for cultivating the gardens at the parking lot. On our way to the checkpoint our acquaintance is sitting with his friends at the usual place, and concurs that indeed today is a "Good day" at the checkpoint. Inside it is totally relaxed. The partition is already closed, the security guards are relaxed and 4 windows are operating. Not many people. A. an Ecumenical from France says that on the other side it is also calm today, even though there were many people.
06:45 – Y. the kidney transplanted child and his mother are passing. He looks better and better. Many families and youngsters are passing today. In honor of the Pentecost Holiday many permits for trips were granted. The group we spoke to were scouts. Probably because there was no pressure of workers, they let them pass at this early hour. The young people fill the place with cheerful tumult. Some of them are somewhat surprised by this contact with the soldiers and the checking while passing, but the good mood prevails.
07:20 – There are almost no people. Only two windows are open. A worker arrives and sweeps the place. We take advantage of the relative quiet and calm for a chat with the security guard who usually expels people rudely out of the checkpoint. We expressed our reservations about not allowing people to stay at the checkpoint, but if they are instructed to leave, he could do so politely, and ask them nicely to wait outside. He says he does what he wants. He decides how to behave. If he addresses them politely, they won’t heed him, he claims. We said it was worth a try, since the people who pass are human beings like him and us. He did not refute it but rejected the proposal to be polite. Let’s see if there will be any change in the future.
Outside the checkpoint they are cleaning. We never saw the entrance to the checkpoint so clean! Landscaping and cleaning... we wonder if they may have already began preparing for the Pope’s visit. But could gardening and cleaning hide the ugliness of the checkpoint itself, the wall that is built so that there wouldn’t be an extra inch for the city of Bethlehem and of the occupation in general???
Many people are at the DCO. The machine issuing numbers is not working. The people waiting organized a list and now they all sit and wait. For lack of numbers they don’t let people in. With Hannah’s assistance from Ramat Gan (by phone) we helped a man who needs an entrance permit to Israel in order to take his baby-son for heart surgery at Tel Hashomer Hospital; we also helped a woman with a medical problem. We filled a number of applications for restriction removal for people who approached us. In most cases, we explained to them which documents they should bring to apply for removal of security restriction. We referred people with police restrictions to Haya, and a man who needed a permit to go to Jordan we referred to the Center for Human Rights. We spoke with the father of the sick baby, who was born with a heart defect. He is one month old and already in need of life-saving surgery. The mother, who gave birth by Caesarean section is still hospitalized due to complications. At home they have a 4 year old girl. The father says that one of his other children became like a vegetable, following the negligent treatment received at a local hospital. We also spoke with a Palestinian whose wife is a resident of Rahat in the Negev. His permit to stay with his wife and children in Rahat expired, and he came to renew it.
08:35 A soldier and an officer arrived and fixed the machine that issues numbers. A tumult began, but two young men who prepared the list earlier tried (and somewhat succeeded) to restore order. People were called by name to come and take numbers from the machine. About 10 minutes later an
announcement blared through the speakers giving the number and the window one has to approach. Many arrived for a magnetic card renewal, which begins only at 12:00 PM. They had more than three hours of waiting. Because of the pressure of issuing magnetic cards people arrive very early so they can get an early number in the queue, and so that the DCO doesn’t close before they attain their goal. As a reminder: people can get to DCO only once a week - every village or town has its own day of reception.
We left at 09:30 or so.