Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
06:30 - lots of people and cars outside. A., our acquaintance, is not yet here. Lots of pressure inside. Five windows are open and a soldier lets people in through the gate between the windows. At window 2’s counter there is a pile of permits, apparently confiscated from people who were not allowed to pass. M. from Sweden, a new ecumenical, says that earlier only one window was open on the Palestinian side and it created a lot of pressure. She shows photos of people climbing the fences in an attempt to cut the queue. Meanwhile A. arrives and says that there was pressure all last week and that today it’s relatively less busy but still worse than usual. He rushes off because it’s late; other people complain that because of the slow passage they are late for work. Goni was told outside of the checkpoint that one of the security guards on the Palestinian side used violence and hit people. The Ecumenical woman says she did not see physical violence, but one of the guards spoke and behaved very aggressively. Since we could not tell who it was we could not complain.
The gate was closed and reopened when there was pressure. Ofra came to take Y., the child who had a kidney transplant, and his mother, for a private lesson. Due to his illness, Y. has lost many days at school, and he refuses to attend first grade, as assigned to him, preferring to be with boys his own age. Ofra arranged for a private tutor and came to pick him and his mother up. Meantime the place had emptied. A young man who is recognized by the guard arrives. He has forgotten his permit and his ID card at home. The guard asks for guidance on the radio since he knows the young man. Nevertheless, the guidelines are to check on the computer. So the guy calls home and they give him his ID number, the security guard repeats the number on the radio, they check it and he is allowed to pass.
Meanwhile most of the windows close and a new shift of soldiers and guards arrives. For one reason or another they are in a jovial mood toward the end of their shift and one of the soldiers announces on the loudspeaker: "Good morning everyone and have a nice day." Later, when they open the gate to pass the people standing in line they say: "Thank you for choosing Rachel Passage". Despite the playful spirit, the statement reminds that the right to choose is not exactly present.
There is mayhem at the DCO. People organized a list of those waiting; one man is trying to impose some order and is asking people to take numbers from the machine according to the list. Despite this there is a large gathering, shoving and shouting around the machine. It took a while before they calmed down and everyone took a number and sat down. Approval of magnetic cards begins only at 12 on Sundays. We filled requests for exclusion reversal for a few people and explained to others what documents are required for the process of reversing exclusion. Those excluded by the police we referred to Haya.
Several people told us they had arrived on Thursday past the time recorded on their permit (17:00) and the permits were confiscated. They were told to come today to DCO to get their permits. Meanwhile, they stand at the entrance, but no one has been let in yet. We called DCO to find out why they are not letting them in and talked to Avi and Yotam. According to them they already issued several permits this morning, they recommend patience, they will let those waiting in, but as to those whose permits were taken – the permits are not at DCO. According to Yotam these are probably people who did not pass in an orderly fashion through the checkpoint and their permits were taken away because of the delay. He suggests they check with the police if their permits are there, and if not - turn to the Palestinian side to issue a new permit. More harassment...
Before we left they started to let in those waiting for permits.