Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Tue 15.4.08, Afternoon
15:30 to 17:05
DCO Gush Etzion
The roomy and cool hall was almost deserted. An older man was waiting for his wife. He lives in Jerusalem, and she is from Beit Jallah. He explained that every 2 years, her permit is renewed. “It usually does not take long,” he said. He waited 35 minutes. He was looking after her bag and he told us that the soldiers do not allow bags to be taken into the DCO.
Natanya asked the soldier manning the entrance booth about this and he said that it was not true. Bags can be taken into the Office, but he added that “the other soldier” had told the woman to leave her bag outside with her husband.
An older man and a younger man entered at 15:35 and left the Office 30 minutes later.
At 16:00, a man appeared at the turnstile, and the soldier told him that there were a lot of people waiting inside, and that it would not be worth his while entering. He should come back tomorrow. The man explained that he had been waiting inside the DCO and then went out to go to the toilet. The soldier let him through the turnstile into the Office again.
The soldier shouted, almost barking out some questions and orders, but he appeared to be doing his job adequately, addressing people's needs.
An older man with a younger woman, probably his daughter, came at 16:18 to ask for permission to visit Hadassah. They were permitted to enter and left about four minutes later.
A young man approached us and asked for assistance. He had approached Sylvia about six months ago, and she had given his details to a lawyer. He has not heard anything and asked us to contact Sylvia in his behalf. We will follow this through tomorrow during the hours that Sylvia is available.
We were told that the DCO is open from Monday through to Wednesday only.
A note: the women's toilet was rather smelly and not overly clean. There was no water. Who is responsible?
Bethlehem Checkpoint 4:50
When we arrived there were between 30 and 40 people, mostly men returning from work, waiting in two fairly orderly lines. The waiting time was short, 10-12 minutes at the most, and there were 4 sleeves working.
When we left, there were 14 people waiting to go through.
A group of mostly German tourists who were visiting Bethlehem tried to engage us in conversation, telling us how supportive and appreciative they were of the work of MachsomWatch. As we stood in a group, we were actually blocking access to the sleeves. One of the soldiers asked us politely if we could continue our conversation outside.