Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL
Bethlehem Checkpoint - crowded but flows on the Israeli side; tear gas on the Palestinian side
6:30 - outside as usual it’s crowded with people and cars. Inside it’s not yet crowded until a call is heard on the Palestinian side to begin passing people and the hall fills up immediately. 8-9 windows are open. The passage flows. The carousel in window 1 is again broken and people have to squeeze between the railings to go through, or skip over them.
People complain that the security guards on the Palestinian side used tear gas. They said it was unnecessary, and many suffered from it. A. our acquaintance says that they used the gas in order to stop the people who pushed and tried to enter through the exit route. He said those who waited at the usual line were not injured. He left wishing us a Happy New Year.
At first there was only one security guard in the hall. He was later followed by an officer, another policeman and a security guard. At 7:00 pm it is still very crowded but the passage flows. Women complain that there was only one line on the Palestinian side and they had to squeeze between men. Someone complains to us that Etzion DCL doesn’t issue magnetic cards. His wife needed a card but was unable to obtain one. They told her to return in a week or two. Meanwhile, even though she has a permit and it appears on the computer they sometimes prevent her from passing. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Although she explained that DCL doesn’t issue cards they responded that it's her problem, not theirs.
At some point M. arrives, he was prevented 2 weeks ago and asked for our help. The behavior around him was so strange that we thought that they were trying to set a sort of trap for us. This time too there is something odd about him. He came up to us after passing the checking and said that now he is no longer prevented but is going back home because he is sick. If so why did he pass? Why did he come to us? It is unclear.
The policeman is summoned to one of the windows. There is a woman with a child who appears to be with special needs. The policeman did not allow her to pass and the security guard escorted her back on the Palestinian side. According to the police officer she didn’t have a permit. She thought that at her age (50) she doesn’t need a permit but it appears that once again they raised the age at which one can enter with only an ID: women aged 55 and men from the age of 60.
7:25 – the hall is finally empty. We leave.
As usual, many approach us when we arrive, present their documents and voice their problems. If possible (if they brought the required documents) we help them in filling out an application to remove the prevention, and they go in to submit it. They sign a power of attorney with which Sylvia can track the application, whether it is being handled and what is the response. We explain to others what the required documents are and they will fax them. If necessary we can always find those who can help with translation.
Among others, we met an elderly man that previously received a permit to accompany his sick daughter for medical treatments. Recently he is prevented from entering Israel and has no idea why. We fill for him an application for prevention removal and give him the phone numbers of Hanna B and Yael S who will try and help him when he’ll need medical approvals again. We met another woman who came with her mother. She was married to a resident of East Jerusalem, but they separated and she returned to her parents in the West Bank. She has a ruling from the Sharia whereby the father has to pay child support. The Palestinian Authority sent her to file a complaint with the Israeli police, because he is considered a resident of Israel.
When we left we had a surprise. Several young men approached us and asked to take a “selfie” with Sylvia...