Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
6:20 on our way to the checkpoint we met people waiting for transportation to work. Some say that indeed the passage is easier and faster in recent weeks. They asked us to help them send the mothers and the children to fun days at sea in Tel Aviv, which our friends organize. We will help.
6:45 in the hall: few are waiting in lines. 9 windows are operating all morning and the passage is efficient. In fact most people have passed before we arrived, since the waiting time on both sides of the checkpoint had decreased dramatically.
6.50 An adult over 55 expects to pass without a permit, in the spirit of the new regulation for his age, but they take his ID. We went to help but the document was returned and he passed.
7:05 the metal detector on the Palestinian side suddenly beeps loudly and the stream of people arriving increases at once. All the windows absorb the stream efficiently and everybody passes quickly to the satisfaction of all parties.
7.15 A hard of hearing person asks us to help his son remove the prevention from entering Israel. With the help of a volunteer translator we took the information for the handling of Sylvia’s staff.
7:20 trying to understand the meaning of the silence and the thinning of the crowds throughout the morning I asked a soldier who came out from a window whether there were fewer people this morning? She didn’t have time to respond since a soldier, perhaps her senior, shouted angrily: You can’t talk to her!
7:30 before we left it was clear that there is a huge improvement in the passage at Bethlehem Checkpoint for the last three weeks. Is this a new management policy, more effective and respectful to the people passing? In this atmosphere of cautious optimism, not to provoke the Evil Eye, we left the area on our way to the Etzion DCL.
7:50 at the parking lot there are already people waiting for us with prevention issues. We begin working in the caressing sun. A. an old acquaintance, smiley and Hebrew speaking, is a musician and his passion is "to make people happy with songs." He is the father of five children and another one on the way. He has a baby suffering from development disabilities, the parents invest all their strength in their family and livelihood in Israel would benefit them greatly. But despite his repeated requests he can’t obtain a permit to enter Israel. He is close to despair. Sylvia takes care of applying for him to remove the prevention.
At DCL things are exhausting and bad lately. People are waiting for answers but submitted applications are not addressed properly. Because of a negative attitude, people are repeatedly sent to bring new letters from their employers. In other DCLs one submits the application for prevention removal along with the required documents, as is customary, and receives a receipt (Wasl) that defines the prevention and\or a deadline for a reply. Here they stamp the ID’s with "Prevented Resident" and more recently they add in handwriting the words "GSS prevented."
Despite our protests the bathrooms are still locked (3 weeks already). "It will be repaired today” a soldier promises Sylvia when she complains on the phone. What an appropriate illustration to the way Etzion DCL is running.
9.20 We finished responding to all the people who addressed us and returned to Jerusalem.