AN UNHELPFUL “IMPROVEMENT”
15.00 Outside and in the waiting room was a crowd of people from the Bethlehem area who came for magnetic cards. People who came for permits were admitted quickly but there nothing seemed to happen for those who came for the magnetic card applicants. We phoned and soon afterwards things stated to progress rapidly - which allowed admittance for about another 20 people. And then it stopped.
All that time, in addition to the visual instructions given on the large screen, there were now repeated loudspeaker instructions in Arabic, explaining the “Five stages of the procedure.” This no doubt was intended to be helpful - but (a) it was so loud that it was hard to hear names being called. As a result, people crowded up close to the turnstile so as to be sure of not missing their turn. And, in reaction, the woman soldier inside shouted at them to go back – warning that she would not admit anyone at all if they didn’t (an educational measure?); (b) it seems to be adding insult to injury. Not only did everyone have to hear this loud voice repeating instructions over and over. But it was clear that many of those waiting (and who had waited since morning) would never get beyond “Stage 2”, i.e., sitting quietly in the waiting room with their queue-number in hand.
There were people with numbers in the 170’s – but when 155 were admitted, at 16.15, the soldier announced that no more would be admitted (for cards) as the room inside was full. Naturally, there was a lot of anger at this – after all, the office hours are until 17.00. The soldier told all those still waiting to come on Thursday, after the holyday. When we pointed out that Thursday is the day allotted for another area’s residents, she assured us that these Bethlehem people would be admitted. (This should be checked. And, of course, they would once again have to wait their turn.)
By the way, this same soldier wanted to remove us (“it is forbidden for you to to be here”) and threatened to bring the commanding officer. Perhaps it would have been an advantage for him/her to see the crowds waiting.