Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
Bethlehem Checkpoint (Israeli side)
As usual, there are many people and cars outside the checkpoint. A., our acquaintance, and his friends greet us with
good morning. A. says it’s an upside down world at the checkpoint: when there is war the checkpoint operates well but when there’s a cease-fire the usual mess is back…
Inside the checkpoint it’s calm. Five windows are open and the passage is smooth. No pressure. Soldiers, security guards and a policeman stand on one side and chat. P., an ecumenical from Ireland, who also observes on the Palestinian side of the CP, says that today everything is running smoothly. From the beginning they opened all the windows on the Palestinian side, kept the order and did not allow youngsters to jump over the enclosure fences; when there was pressure on the Israeli side they passed people in window 5 from the outside, without checking on the computer (as they often do through the gate between the windows). When he passed it took him about 18 minutes, whereas in the past it took 45 minutes. In total around 6,000 people passed from Bethlehem to the Israeli side of the checkpoint.
There were no special events during our stay. Some people whose permits were for 8 o’clock had to wait for the appointed time. The soldiers and security guards were busy with one of the women soldiers who refused to wear her cap. At one point the women soldiers in window 1 and 2 began to sing and performed their tasks while singing. A refreshing change... towards 07:00 there were hardly any people left. At 7: 15 only two windows remained open and that was enough.
We arrived at the DCO before it opened. When they did open, and people began entering and taking numbers according to a list prepared in advance, it turned out that the machine issuing numbers did not work. The soldiers tried to fix it from a distance, but to no avail. A few minutes later several soldiers reappeared, among them an officer with the rank of captain, who turned out to be the deputy head of the DCO. They restarted the machine. Most people who have arrived today at the DCO are waiting for their magnetic card. Reception will begin only in 12:00, but if they don’t arrive early to get a number they won’t be able to enter. One person complains to us that last week he had number 75 and was not admitted. This week his number is 55 and he hopes to be able to enter.
In the meantime we helped a number of people to file requests for removal of prevention (by GSS), to others we explained which documents they need to obtain for prevention removal request. People with requests to remove police prevention were referred to Haya.
We left around 09:00.