Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 18.5.08, Afternoon
A day full of surprises.
12:30 Etzion DCL: The first surprise was when we arrived and saw almost 70 Palestinians waiting in line: seven of them were waiting for GSS (General Security Service) interrogation and the rest for magnetic cards and permits. Why were there so many people there?
We were told at arrival that 20 people were admitted by 12:30 PM.
I was preparing myself to start expediting the process when the computers at Beit-El crashed and everything came to a halt. After about 15 minutes we were told that we might as well go home. This lead to a large commotion among the Palestinians. About 20 or 30 people gave up and left.
Two of the people needed a permit for the following day. One person was waiting for a medical permit and stayed. The other needed a permit to meet with a human rights group and eventually left. Another person needed a medical permit for the day after the next one. Meanwhile Shlomit helped some Christian women to get some assistance from the police.
The second surprise was when the head of the Civil Administration arrived in person and talked to us for a few minutes. I introduced myself and called Shlomit to join us. We mentioned the large number of Palestinians waiting for assistance and the crashed computers. An order was given to immediately fix the computers.
4:30 PM: We took half an hour break. When we returned the computers were working and people were exiting with magnetic cards (or refusals). The woman who needed to meet with the human rights organization returned to pick up her permit and a permit for a friend. After about an hour she exited with both permits. The man who needed the medical permit was admitted (despite claims that his permit had not arrived) and received his permit. And even the person who needed the medical permit for the day after tomorrow received it.
It seems obvious that the presence of the head of the Civil Administration helped a lot, but he can not be everywhere all the time. In addition there is no control system of what happens on the ground in real time.
We regretted the fact that some Palestinian left the checkpoint before the computers were fixed.