Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
From 6:00 till 8:30 AM
The closer we got to the checkpoint the more Palestinians we saw. They had already crossed the passage and were on their way to work. Those walked, whereas near the checkpoint they were sitting on the sidewalk or in the olive grove along the road; hundreds of workers who were waiting for transportation to their work place. We were reminded of a slave market. At the entrance to the CP we met a young Irish man, member of the ecumenical movement EAPPI who had crossed from the Bethlehem side. He reported that today the passage had been smooth; that there were no large crowds on the other side and that up till then, it was 6:15 AM already more than 2,500 people had passed. Also on the Israeli side the crossing seemed easy, except for one girl-soldier who sat at one of the windows and occasionally was screaming. When I approached her window to find out what the shouting was all about, it turned out that she was screaming at someone whose permit was not valid. When she saw met getting closer to her window she shouted at me too and asked what I wanted. I replied that since I heard her screams I wanted to know what happened. She told me to move away and stand in the corner (like in elementary school) next to the entrance. Afterwards she also called the commander of the CP, so he could discipline us. He indeed came and with a threatening finger demanded from us not to disturb the work process. We tried to explain to him that we had not come to disturb and that we only came to ‘observe’. He turned away from us and returned to his office without any comment to the impolite girl-soldier. Some workers approached us and asked for Haya or Sylvia and we gave them their telephone numbers. Many smiled at us and greeted us friendly and one woman thanked us a lot for our presence. In addition to the soldiers who manned the windows there were two civil security guards who were nice to us. Our friend A. from Wallaje crossed and we were pleased to see him. The EAPPI volunteer continued counting and reached 6,00 by 7:30 AM when he returned to the Palestinian side of the CP. When we left we were shocked by the filth all around the building.
We reached the Etzion DCL at around 7:45 AM; the parking lot was deserted and the door was still locked. At 8:00 AM the door was opened but only two people had arrived. One came for a permit and was indeed immediately called inside by the soldier at the window who was polite and even spoke Arabic. The second man was dealt and imported electrical appliances who spoke Hebrew fluently. He had been denied a permit for security reasons since last year and since then has been trying to cancel the verdict. According to him he has never been involved in anything illegal. He had come to personally speak to the representatives of the Security Services. Besides these two men nothing occurred at the DCL and we felt superfluous. The parking lot of the DCL is also full of rubbish and we wondered who is in charge of cleaning it up.