Al Nashshash, Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 5.11.07, Morning
Road 60, Bethlehem Checkpoint, Nebeh Yunis, Etzion DCL
- Bethlehem Checkpoint
Very lively traffic, hundreds of people and many pick-up trucks collecting them for transport to their work-places. A few private cars taking one or two labourers and tens pf people waiting for their employer or work colleagues. Many complained that the crossing was especially slow today. The pressure was specially great from the Bethlehem side : a female Palestinian complained about the crush which was particularly unpleasant for women; she asked that the central gate should be opened for women to pass through. According to Hannah B, and based on previous recurring experiences, there is no point in even asking for such a thing.
We entered the exit hall at 07.10 and saw that people were passing through 4 inspection channels, not fast but in a constant stream.
We left the Bethlehem checkpoint , and passed by a shelter where 7 elderly women were detained with a border policeman guarding them. The reason that they had been detained was that they had crossed the fence without passes. On no account were we allowed to speak to them or give them a note with a telephone number which they could use later to telephone for help. The soldier spoke to us politely but firmly and we were obliged to leave the place without success.
- We met a Palestinian to discuss his problems with the police (traffic tickets).
08.00 – 09.00 Beit Omer.
A number of people with the usual requests, including renewal of vouchers, driving licenses, file numbers and similar items. A young man had a different application: he had arrived from the USA via Jordan a week previously to visit his father who was in a serious condition in Tel- Hashomer hospital following a road accident. The man had a letter from Tel-Hashomer confirming this.
After receiving advice we recommended two approaches: the regular one i.e. to apply to the Palestinian authorities and via them to contact the civil administration office in order to apply for an entry permit; the second one: to send a fax to Hannah B with all the documents and to ask her to try to speed up the application.
An hour later, we met the man again at the civil administration office. As he came out he told us that he had forgotten to mention that he is on the GSS list of people denied permits. Hannah nevertheless continued to handle his application.
- Etzion DCL
- Nearly 30 people were waiting in the hall, most of them for magnetic cards. According to them, almost no-one had been allowed to approach a window during the previous hour and a half. Only a few were allowed to enter, but none of them for a magnetic card application. While we were there none of the magnetic card applicants came out.
We telephoned various relevant offices and after a half an hour the queue started to move. The soldiers claimed that there was great pressure inside. It appeared from the people who started to come out that about ten people were indeed inside but that during an hour and a half the soldiers didn’t work and the window was closed. During the next hour that we were there only seven people who had received magnetic cards came out: three on the GSS-denied list, one to go to a law-court, one had not received a permit (his current one had been laundered by mistake), one on the police-denied list.
All these cases during an hour and a quarter and the hall was still full of people who had already been waiting for hours, and progress was still very slow indeed.
A tiring shift - and our usual dejection . . .