Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 7.10.07, Afternoon
Etzyon DCL, Gilo Terminal
We decided to start our shift earlier and arrive at the DCL before 2 pm, since we noticed that by 4 pm the place was empty.
In the parking lot there were approximately 30 cars, some with Israeli license plates.
Inside the spacious waiting room there was one person.
Outside were 5 Palestinians who were asked to refresh their biometric identification by giving finger prints at the DCL. Three of the Palestinians were employed by an Israeli. After refreshing their identification, they asked for their entry permits. Lieutenant Tedsa answered that he did not pass such information to Palestinians and that their employer had to take care of them. The DCL does not deal with entry permits; only Linda from the employment office dealt with entry permits and she does not see Palestinians - only Israeli employers.
Linda's office is open until 1 pm. She does not handle cases after that hour. I spoke to the Israeli employer and he said that he'd been trying to reach Linda all morning, but she did not answer his calls. She did not answer ours either.
As a last resort I suggest he called the DCL offices, but I did not have the phone number of Itzik Levi, the person in charge of civilian employment, since employment permits are a totally different department in the IDF's civilian administration. We called the civilian administration representative at Beit-El who was especially nice, and despite the fact that it was not his job to check the Palestinian's ID numbers, he checked the computer and found that the employment branch had still not issued permits to these workers.
“First there was a curfew, now it's Ramadan, next week there are three days of holidays - when are we going to work? How will we support our families?”
People came out of the DCL with magnetic cards. They did not tell us how many people where inside, how many got cards and how hectic or not was the situation inside.
A permit for churches that was not issued was sent to Sezer - the liaison for church employees at the Ministry of Interior.
Rachel Crossing: We arrived 5 minutes before large groups of workers returned from a hard day of work to their homes. Because of Ramadan they arrive at 3 pm instead of 4 pm.
Three checking booths were open and the place looked very calm.
The first group of workers arrived around 3 pm. Two minutes later two more groups arrived, and half a minute later, yet another group. Each group had 10-15 people. At 3:10 pm there are already hundreds of people. One checking booth is abandoned and only two are left open. We phone Roni, who immediately arrives and opens two more checking booths. The Palestinians move like on a conveyer belt: they place their permit against the window, offer their magnetic card and put their hand in the scanner while the soldier examines their magnetic card. If all goes well the Palestinian can pass and go home, and the next Palestinian approaches…The entire process takes about 20 seconds.
Roni arrived with a police officer who stayed until most of the people got through and with another officer.
Approximately 3,000 Palestinians go through the Rachel crossing every day. According to our estimate, about 2,000 of these pass during rush hour. All it takes is for a computer in one of the checking booths to break down in order to cause a delay. Today a computer crash was fixed quickly and the fourth booth was reopened.
The border policeman in charge of order in the terminal directs the traffic of people. He sends in groups of 60-80 people at a time and no more. A new group is sent in every 5-8 minutes.
Around 3:30 pm a border policeman enters the hall with two armed men from a private security firm who came to learn the trade… Their guide showed them how to talk to the Palestinians: “You go there!” he commands a Palestinians and directs him towards checking booth number two. The two security guards, who could easily fit in some Hollywood action movie, do not respond. They are learning the ropes…
At 3:50 pm the number of people drops substantially and we decide to end our shift.