Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 31.3.08, Afternoon
There were 3 people outside the building at the Etzion DCL : one of them had come to the special-services office because he is married to a Jerusalemite and wanted to apply for a permit live with her. After half an hour he came out empty-handed; another wanted to apply for a medical certificate, but the official at the medical desk was suspicious about the letter he showed him and we didn’t have the details of the sick person in order to verify the claim; the third one was a truck-driver who was ordered by an Israeli company to get rid of a load of rubbish. He was caught and the company should have sent a fax to the police in order to free the driver and get the case against him dropped. Sylvia contacted the company and tried to speed things up – there was no conclusive answer.
Six positions were open. As usual, the officers spoke to us and gave us details of what had happened that morning : they said that the waiting-time was 19-25 minutes, and the checkpoint was opened at 05.05. The truth is that for a long time now I haven’t received telephone calls at 05.00 complaining that the checkpoint hasn’t been opened yet.
Today is the last day for the Christians to receive travel permits for their festival. Traffic at 16.30 hours was lively in both directions, and about 70 people left Bethlehem. There was a special queue for them at the position nearest to the exit door. At one stage, other positions also handled people leaving Bethlehem. By 1700 hours the queue had disappeared.
At this season the crossing operates at its maximum capacity at peak hours. The fact that there is no exit door, the small size of the hall and other physical constraints, limit the time for handling those going in and out of Bethlehem.
The police who operate the place make efforts to speed up the passage, and the private security company which is responsible for guarding it in general try to behave reasonably towards the Palestinians.
None-the-less, a Palestinian who was returning from a day’s labor passed near us, spat and cursed us, the Occupation, and everyone who invented the checkpoints . . . .