Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
6:20 to 07:40 Bethlehem Checkpoint
Not an auspicious morning. As soon as we enter we can hear loud shouting from the Palestinian side of the checkpoint, while on the Israeli side there are only a few people. An Ecumenical witness reports that only the metal-detectors are working on the Palestinian side hence the pressure and the long lines that keep getting longer.
6:35 the shouts gets louder. Those who manage to pass say this is one of the most difficult days at the checkpoint. There is no separate queue for the women and they have to squeeze in with the crowds. The anger is huge and everyone’s nerves are on edge. Some raise their hands to the sky with a desperate expression, others express anger with a grave expression or a colorful curse. There is no mistaking about what they went through on this difficult morning.
7.05 Our acquaintance A. arrives his face crestfallen, exhausted. He is waiting as usual since 5:30 and only now was able to walk the short distance between the entrance to the exit from the checkpoint, this while pushing and shoving, almost impossible to breathe. Someone asks the veteran policeman: "Why are you killing us like this?" And he answers confidently: "It’s Sunday, right? That’s the way it is on Sundays…” As if on Sunday it’s permitted to humiliate and oppress people who have been passing here for many years. But we have seen reasonable behavior on Sundays, effective passage and even demonstrations of respect to the people passing.
7:15 the hall is quite empty. Women tell us, some on the verge of tears that on the Palestinian side there are crowds of people waiting to pass. "What’s going to happen?"
7:20 a comic relief amid the shouting and the anger: a young man, who finally passed all the torturous stations, comes out singing, waving his hands and laughing hysterically. Humor too is the weapon of the weak.
7.30 The flow of people increases, apparently the valve on the Palestinian side was released and they all arrive at once. All the windows come into play and the pressure is released effectively. At this time most of the crowd is no longer workers, but women, girls and “well-dressed” men, perhaps white-collar people... The passage is now flowing.
8:10 to 9:20 AM Etzion DCL
Most of the people in the hall are waiting for reception that will begin at noon so that they could renew their magnetic cards. We are helping 7 people with their applications for prevention removal. We were on our way home when an older man entered the hall dressed in a white galabia, white keffiyah on his head, bent and leaning on his cane. His nephew accompanied him holding a bundle of papers, an impressive young and suave man. He says in fluent Hebrew that his uncle is a veteran merchant of vegetables and spices who returned from Jordan with goods for sale. They stopped him at the bridge, confiscated his goods, took his money and threw him, without explanation, to “Ofer” prison. The uncle, 65 years old but looks older, was released from jail after three long days and nights. According to the release papers there were obviously no charges and no accusations against him. They told him that the goods had arrived at Etzion DCL and they are here to retrieve them. The policeman claims that that there are no goods and the man should go home. In the meantime the man appointed an attorney to recuperate the money but he also wants his merchandise back. Haya suggests we should refer him to the Human Rights Center. I asked him to call and tell me how this was resolved.