Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
6:40 – today there are less people outside. Hebron area is under curfew because of the kidnapping of the Jewish boys and the search for them, most of those who arrived are from the area. Our acquaintance and his friends are sitting outside and waiting. They say today was very relaxed because of the small number of people. They are talking about the kidnapping. One of them says that most people just want to work, return home and live in peace. He says that he has friends who are settlers from Har Gilo, who come visit him on Saturdays with their kids when they ride their ATVs and they all drink coffee together. He believes the kidnappers are from Al-Qaeda or another organization, who came to the West Bank from Syria and Afghanistan, the way they arrived in Sinai. He blames the Americans. Our acquaintance laughs: "he should be in the International GSS".
4 windows are open inside and the hall is rather empty. Still they don’t allow the passing of those who have a permit from 7 or later. A. the Ecumenical says that on the Palestinian side they checked all the permits of those who arrived, probably because of the kidnapping. She tells about a quite aggressive policeman and a senior police officer who improved his attitude to people and in his presence, the aggressive policeman behaved more civilly.
At one point the security guard turned to me and to A. and said we have to stand outside. Half apologizing, he said that he got an order to send us out. We refused, claiming that we always stand inside without disturbing. He reported on the radio and after a few minutes two policemen and another security guard arrived. The senior officer, Nathan Tahar, said he is the checkpoint’s commander and repeated the demand that we leave. We tried to convince him but he was pretty aggressive, demanded my ID card and A.’s passport. When I said she does not understand Hebrew, he claimed she understands very well. I told her in English that he wants her passport and took my ID card out. Eventually he just browsed my ID card and gave it back to me he didn’t even take A.’s passport. According to him the checkpoint is a military zone and we are not allowed to be here, and that one of the woman soldiers complained that we interfere. (This is not true of course). Eventually we stood outside and he left. A few minutes later two women soldiers left some of the windows that were closed, and we clearly heard one of them ask the guard why did he send us out…
Meanwhile, the passage went on smoothly. A little after 7 only two windows remained open, which created a small queue, but very quickly everyone passed and the hall emptied again. We left at 7:20.
We did not notice an increased presence of security forces in the area, although the kidnapping occurred nearby. We arrived early, before DCO opened, so we drank coffee and talked with people outside. They say that in order to get to DCO they have to take a taxi. From Bethlehem to the parking lot of the DCO it costs 15 ₪, a large amount for them. So they travel till Gush Etzion’s junction and walk from there, that way it costs only 6 ₪. The problem is that on their way the settlers harass them, and throw stones at them. But today was fine.
Towards 8 a woman officer and a soldier arrived. Till DCO opens and the machine issuing numbers is functioning, people were required to stay away across the concrete blocks that separate the parking lot from the building. When the soldiers left, people walked in. They prepared ahead of time a list to avoid an onslaught on the machine issuing numbers, but there are some who push over and take a number without being in line. Shouting and fighting ensued and continued even after everyone had taken numbers. At moments it seemed as if the quarrel will turn violent, but fortunately friends of those fighting separated them and calmed things down.
People said the officer claimed that only at 12 it will be possible to take numbers for issuing magnetic cards. They probably did not understand her, because they actually took numbers now, as usual. The problem is that, like every Sunday, only at 12 they begin to receive those waiting for magnetic cards, which is most of them. Today there were no people that needed us to fill their applications for prevention removal. To some we explained which are the required documents and gave them Silvia’s details so that they could send her the documents. To police prevented we gave Haya’s details. We left early, before 9.