Monday 12.1.15 – the hours during which the Peraun gate 708 is open, morning, noon and evening
The banality of bureaucracy – the daily characteristics of the occupation routine
Yesterday morning I received a message, similar to that which is repeated several times a week, about a delay in the opening of the agricultural CP, the Peraun 708 CP. Telephone calls were made to the DCO operations room, who tried to speed the matter up as far as possible, but the CP was opened after a delay of one hour, at 08:15 instead of at 07:15.
At noon there was a similar problem – the barrier should have been opened at 13:00 but was opened at 14:15 – a delay of an hour and a quarter.
In the evening there was a veritable exaggeration – the CP should have been opened at 16:00 and in spite of many phone calls to every operations room and officer on duty, and in the end also to the DCO woman officer with a request to assist in every possible way, the soldiers did not arrive until 17:30 to open the agricultural gate for reasons which were not clear at all ; they were new soldiers, the vehicle was stuck, there were security events along the fence… those were the reasons, while the farmers were waiting and darkness was already falling.
The four farmers were in distress because of the weather and also because of the security situation – there is always a chance that while one waits in the darkness the army will identify them as suspicious figures and could shoot in their direction. They therefore asked to leave the place and pass through the nearby Ephraim-Irtah gate, but feared that they would later be told that if they won't "close the circle" their permit would be taken from them. Such a case occurred, it seems, that very morning ; other farmers who returned on the terrible rainy day last Tuesday, when the soldiers didn't open the gate, were authorized to pass by the Irtah passage, but somebody forgot to register the event in the computer, probably because of the storm, and therefore yesterday morning these farmers were refused passage and asked to report at the Israeli DCO.
I therefore asked permission from the operations room and after examination it was granted by the officer on duty who understood the situation and was eager to help, but later it transpired that because I was under such pressure I approached too many people and some did not remember that one must ask the Palestinians for their ID number, because without the registration of the ID numbers at Sha'ar Ephrayim it would be impossible to identify those men and "others might take advantage of this situation". They asked me how I knew that they didn't cheat me and that they indeed were at the gate. I didn't want to quarrel, although my voice had already risen and I had begun, against my will, to apply a lecturing tone, but I thought to myself – who would stand at the gate and phone every quarter of an hour to check when the gate would be opened? Why should they lie? But bureaucracy has its rules and moreover at clear banality!
In any case I obtained three ID numbers of 3 people later and reported, and I was promised by an SMS message that probably, if they would be registered as missing people on their return, the event would be taken into consideration, as the woman officer really understood the situation and took care to register it in the event log of the sector.
But today the entanglement continued – in the morning they saw to it that the army arrive at the CP on time, but the computers fell and again it took over an hour to pass, until probably the woman officer or somebody else came to her or his senses and passed an order to register the people on a page. It must be hoped that the information will later be entered into the computer, as sometimes it is not clear whether the Palestinians' claim that the soldiers do not enter the information into the computer but throw the page away is true or just a rumor. Whether it is true or just a rumor – time will tell.
But this was not the end of the banality of bureaucracy. Around 09:30 I again received a phone call from one of the farmers who told me that they had built a nylon hut of 12 square meters as a shelter from the frequent rains in this season. The soldiers stuck a note on the hut that it has to be torn down. I wrote an SMS on this matter but received no reply. The Palestinians had in the meantime approached the Palestinian bureaucratic liaison authorities with a request to be given permission for the nylon hut which serves as shelter during the torrential rain.
Familiar? Not only from the Palestinians, but also from the encampment of the homeless on Arlozoroff street and also the evacuees from Givat Amal – it seems the banality of bureaucracy is not very diversified.
Sad – as after all there are many people at this DCO who try to help solve the problems as far as they can, but the bureaucracy policy and its banality take the upper hand and make the life of the farmers, who are doomed to be separated by a fence from their lands, very difficult.