Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
06:35 Many people and cars outside, as usual. A., our acquaintance, and his friends sitting outside wish us a happy New Year. We thank them and wish them a happy Eid. All of us hope this year peace may finally arrive…
Five inspection booths are open within, and an officer and a security guard are also admitting people through the gate between the booths. P., the ecumenical from Ireland, tells us the early morning was crowded; it took him 45 minutes to cross. At one point they opened the gate, it remained open and the crossing flowed. The gate was open when we arrived, until the congestion eased. When it closed congestion quickly returned, apparently also on the Palestinian side, because we heard them say on the loudspeaker to stop admitting people. After a few minutes people were again admitted, and then stopped again. Crossing resumed only after the hall on the Israeli side was completely empty. Women we recognize from previous visits ask today as well for the humanitarian gate to open so women can go through.
By 07:10 the place had emptied. Only two booths remained open; they were enough. We left at 07:30.
Not many people at the DCL today. Soon after they began distributing numbers – most people were waiting to obtain magnetic cards, which are issued on Sunday beginning only at noon – the machine ran out of paper. The people waiting turned to the soldier behind the window observing the revolving gate at the entry to the reception area. After he understood what they wanted he announced over the loudspeaker that someone would come immediately to replenish the machine. And, a few minutes later, an officer and a soldier arrived with rolls of paper and the machine began operating again. The explanatory screen detailing the procedure for obtaining magnetic cards was also working today, as was the loudspeaker describing the procedure. We were pleased to note the volume today wasn’t annoyingly loud, as in the past.
A man waiting complained to us because issuing of magnetic cards on Sunday begins only at noon. He says the taxi to the DCL costs NIS in each direction. One must arrive early to get a place on line, and then you wait and lose an entire day of work. The fee for the card, the income lost and the cost of transportation add up to about NIS 600. A huge amount for hardscrabble workers who earn very little…
This time we saw on the wall, for the first time, announcements in Hebrew and Arabic, accompanied by a map, declaring 4000 dunums in the area to be state land.
We filled out applications for a few people requesting they be removed from the blacklist and gave others information about the documents required. One man, who’d recently submitted an application with a form we’d filled out at the DCL, arrived today to obtain an entry permit to Israel for medical treatment – he needs an operation. We hope he won’t have a problem obtaining the permit (we gave him Chana B’s phone number, in case they don’t give it to him), and perhaps, by the time he recovers, his blacklisting will have been cancelled…