Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
Bethlehem, Etzion DCL 26/10/2014
Sylvia D. Hannah A. Goni Z. Ronit D. (Reporting), Translation: Naomi Gal
Bethlehem Checkpoint - a very busy morning
06:25 – Outside there are many people and cars as usual. Inside five windows are operating and every now and then a soldier passes people through the gate between the windows; from time to time the security guard randomly checks on the radio the details of one or other of the passers by. At this point we didn’t see people delayed and there weren’t many later.
Five women who are not Arabs stand near me in a small circle and pray. When they finish we begin talking, two of them were here in the past as Ecumenical volunteers and now they came as tourists to Bethlehem. Today they decided to see how the CP operates during rush hours, and now they are returning to Bethlehem. The security guard asks us politely to talk outside and we comply. They say that today there is much pressure and people are pushing and jumping over the fences. The Ecumenical from Sweden was detained, checked at the scanner and sent back, but here she comes, and asks the security guard why it is so busy today. I help with translation and he says that at five-thirty one of the scanners broke down, creating greater pressure than usual. They did not open the Humanitarian Gate because people jump over the fences and block the line at this passage too.
Yelling and screaming can be heard from the Palestinian side of the checkpoint and the hall fills up again. Even the open gate between the windows is not enough to relieve the pressure. People complain about waiting a long time and about the great pressure. One says that today it took him two hours to pass. Even A. our acquaintance arrives towards 07:00 - relatively late - and says that the situation today is difficult.
A boy tries to sneak in window 1; a soldier catches him and orders him to go back. He returns to the hall and tries his luck at another window. Once again he is caught and this time the security guard doesn’t relent and leads him all the way back to the Palestinian side.
07:20 - still full. Three women and a man that are not Arabs arrive. They are tourists staying at Tantur who came to see the passing at the checkpoint, and indeed they saw... once again one of the soldiers asks (in English and politely) that we talk outside, and we comply. Later two Ecumenical arrived. They who are almost at the end of their stay and are not on duty today. Sylvia brought M. the Philippine MW publications.
07:30 –the hall emptied. Two windows remain open. We left.
At the entrance to Husan we met Jamila’s son and bought olive oil and olives, sending Jamila best wishes and speedy recovery.
We arrived after 08:00. The parking lot is full and many people are crowded around the open front door. We parked relatively far away, but were immediately surrounded by people seeking help. Sylvia instructs those with restrictions what documents they have to bring and what to fax to Haya so that she can help them fill applications to remove the restriction. Someone who needs a "character reference" is sent to the police station nearby, but they refuse to accept him. Sylvia explains he has to insist. He goes back and then they say they’ll give him the reference, but he must return at 11:00. Why? Occupation knows...
In the meantime we write for those restricted by GSS (those who brought all the required documents) applications to remove restrictions and they are sent to submit the applications. To others we explain which documents they have to obtain and fax to Sylvia. The majority were waiting to renew a magnetic card. On Sundays reception for magnetic cards are received only from 12:00 but, as usual, they arrive very early in order to get a number and a place in line. The machine issuing numbers is out of order today.
One of the men who went in to submit his application to remove restrictions comes back. They demanded "formal payments " (i.e. the employer has to get permission from the payment department and then he will get a "Comments Report from the office of requests for licences” on which will be written that the applicant is from an employer who resides in a settlement where this procedure is not necessary. Sylvia calls and explains it to the soldier at DCL and the man is sent to try and submit his application again.
Another person who tried to submit an application was rejected, as well, the reason given is that the letter of the employer from the settlement is indeed printed and stamped, as required, but is not “official”. We told him to ask the employer to print the letterhead with all his details and thus produce a formal paper that we hope will satisfy the occupier.
We left towards 10:00.