From 2:00 till 5:00 PM
Some of us had been abroad, others were ill and altogether it looked as if our team had totally dropped out of Machsom Watch. However, this is not the case and actually two of us went out together during the last few weeks (once to Wallaje in the Bethlehem area and once to Abu Dis), but we didn’t write a report for reasons of discretion and in order the safeguard the anonymity of some of the Palestinians involved.
Today it was hot; the day after Shavuot, a school holiday and traffic through the tunnels moved extremely slowly. In and around the Tunnel CP we saw hundreds of youngsters on bikes, apparently on an outing which may have caused the delays. The parking lot in front of the DCL was packed and we had trouble finding a parking spot. At the entrance near the toilets we were greeted by dozens of Palestinians who asked us whether we were Sylvia. One person told us that the air conditioning didn’t work. “There is no money,” he said “it all went into the separation wall.” About a hundred people were waiting most of them to have their Magnetic Cards revalidated: “refreshed” according to the terminology on the cards, which were all valid till 2016 (from 2012), but had to be scrutinized apparently sometime around ‘mid-term’ so that their owners could continue receiving work-permits every three months. We were told that ‘without any hassle’ these work-permits can be renewed at the Palestinian DCL for 700 Shekels. We talked to a number of very frustrated men who had come for a second time, since last week they had been told to leave and return again in a week. Theyhad registered at 8:00 AM when numbering started at 60, but when people were let in, the names called out belonged to numbers after 100. There was no one to talk to and to explain although they shouted to the soldiers once in a while. We tried to call the number on the wall a couple of times, but there was no reply. We saw that the COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) was no longer ‘gov.il’, but had changed to 'idf.il' – since when?
We gave Sylvia’s number to a few men who asked ‘for a family member’. Meanwhile the Palestinians were asked to leave and return next week, but hardly anyone moved until after 4:30. By then only about twenty persons still remained. Phylis and Hanva of MW came in with some documents from Sylvia which they were supposed to deliver to someone who was not there. They told us that there had been an accident in the tunnel and that all traffic had been diverted. At the very last minute before 5:00 PM all those boys who had been patient enough to wait, were let inside and some of their parents thanked us profusely for having waited with them till the end.