Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
06:30 - A lot of people and cars outside as usual. A. our acquaintance is not yet here and that’s a sign that there are problems on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint. Inside the checkpoint 5 windows are open, the gate between the windows opens from time to time to let people pass and relieve the pressure in the queues. Shouts and screams can be heard from the Palestinian side of the checkpoint, as usually happens when there is a lot of pressure.
At 06:50 the Israeli side empties but on the Palestinian side the shouting goes on. It seems that there are still many people there but they stopped the passage. The passage resumes at once and toward 7 o’clock A., our acquaintance, arrives. Last week he told us that the checkpoint is “upside down": when the war is on the checkpoint functions well but once there is a ceasefire the usual mess returns. Today as well it’s like this. P. the Ecumenical volunteer from Ireland arrives agitated and confirms that the Palestinian side is under pressure; it took him over an hour to pass to the Israelis side.
At one point, when one of the soldiers left the window, two officers arrived and opened the gate between the windows; one of the officers took the place of the soldier and began to let people through. Then he sat in other windows as well, to replace the soldiers. We saw some people who were rejected, some because their permit was only valid from 08:00. One of them asked for our help: he was prevented from entering Israel because of a financial debt (a traffic fine) but he paid it with the help of Ada, our friend. Despite this they prevented him from passing because the payment has yet to appear in the system. They not only prevented him from passing, but took his permit as well and sent him to get a new one at the DCO. We suggested Ada help him again.
At the end of the conversation with this man the security guard told him vigorously and aggressively to leave. I went outside (where you can see the passage back to the Palestinian side) and saw that he was pushing him, hitting him and kicking him, until he expelled him back to the Palestinian side. Later, when he went to "accompany” other people back to the Palestinian side, I went out again to see how to he behaves, but since this time an officer was with him he wasn’t so violent. The guard later came on his own initiative to talk to us. The exchange ranged between an effort to converse despite our differences, to him accusing and slandering us. He said he was satisfied with his behavior and he has no problem with us reporting him. He admitted that indeed he used violence but denied beating the man or kicking him. He said he used "reasonable force depending on the circumstances." We asserted again and again that the circumstances did not justify use of any force, because the man did not act violently. He said that he has worked for several years as a security guard at a checkpoint (a civil company) and that previously he served in the security forces. He said that "all Palestinians are animals." Some time ago, he and another security guard were attacked while trying to instill order in the line on the Palestinian side, and they were almost lynched. According to him I am "a pathological liar", and all of us support ISIS... there was no point in continuing this dialogue and we continued on our way.
We arrived when it was already open. There were relatively few people there. The machine issuing numbers for the lines had disappeared, the soldiers handed out numbers manually when they opened. Most people came for the issuance of a magnetic card. Reception will begin only at 12:00, but they arrive early to get a number that has a chance to get in. We told a few people about the documents they have to obtain and attach to the application for prevention removal. A university professor arrived, who is planning to go abroad for a continuing education program with a group of teachers. Tomorrow she has to be at the British Consulate in Jerusalem, Israel. But she was prevented from passing and did not get a permit to enter Israel. We referred her to Hannah Barag, but apparently to no avail. Before we left, we saw that she and her brother went inside to try their luck, perhaps they will agree to consider her urgent request and give her permission to go to Jerusalem and realize her dream to join her colleagues. Blessed is the believer.