Bethlehem Checkpoint, Etzion DCO
6:30 - a lot of people and cars outside as usual, and since A. has not yet left the checkpoint we understand that it is crowded on the Palestinian side. 5 operating windows as well as an officer and a security guard occasionally letting people over the age of 40 through the gate between the windows. P. the Ecumenical from the Philippines tells that today is pretty busy and there were pushing and climbing on fences on the Palestinian side. A. arrives to the Israeli side and says that today it took him an hour and 10 minutes to pass. We saw a few who were sent back. In one case a boy is returned from the inner rooms of the checkpoint by a policeman and is accompanied back to Bethlehem. One of the women complains that they didn’t open the Humanitarian gate and they had to squeeze in the same line with the men. According to her it always happens on Sundays.
7: 10 it empties. A man who was turned away appeals to the security guard. He is told that his employer canceled the permit, but the employer himself denies it. The guard tells him to investigate it at DCO. He will not pass today because the computer says his permit is in-valid. We asked about women passage through the Humanitarian Gate, and the answer – occasionally they do open it, but then many men start pushing (who do not "deserve" to pass there) and they are forced to close the gate. He said that if they see women and children in line, they let them pass.
Only one window remains open. Pressure again and they again open the gate till the hall empties. A man with an Israeli identity card was delayed for a moment. They probably suspected that the ID was forged. The security guard talks to him and checks the ID. After clarifying on his two-way radio the Palestinian is allowed to pass.
We left. On our way we saw road signs announcing a new settlement soon-to-be established.
Fortunately DCO is quiet today. The speakers aren’t working. Despite a busy parking lot inside there are fewer people than usual. We assisted some people with their prevention removal applications. We made some of them sign a power of attorney for a lawyer, so that he could check why their case is not progressing. In one case, there is a young man who wants to work in one of the settlements. According to the rules a single young man cannot get a permit to work in Israel, but only in the West bank and the settlements. Sylvia was told that his request is not being processed. According to him the DCO called him and said his case is not being handled because we wrote in his application that he is married and it’s not true. When I called his employer to find out some details the employer told me that the DCO called him and said that they are not processing the application because we asked a permit to work in Israel and not at the occupied territories. By chance we still had on our phone a photo of the application we prepared for him a few weeks ago, lo and behold – in the application there was no mention of him being married and it stated clearly that we is seeking a permit to work in the territories.