Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 16.3.08, Morning
Bethlehem CP: Already at 5 a.m. we received calls for help. At 5.30 the Ecumenicals complained that they were unable to cope with the torrent of people wishing to cross the gates on the one hand; and on the other the harsh behavior of the soldiers and guards.
07.00: We enter the bustling hall; people who rush out ignore us. 5 posts are open; the fifth was opened only recently. At this CP there are 6 posts on the Israeli side. In theory, each could contain 2 computers so that in time of emergency 12 posts could be active simultaneously. In practice, however, we are told that the army cannot afford acquiring more computers.
Queues advance at an inexplicably slow pace; most people are late for work, if not losing a working day altogether. The soldiers are not impressed; they keep using their private telephones, talking and smiling while doing their jobs.
However, at about 7:00 AM the situation is much better then at 5 o’clock when overcrowding at the entrance had been beyond control and when women were not allowed to pass separately. The guards, this morning are particularly rough and cruel: they took arbitrarily 10 people out of the line and sent them back to the end, including a young mother with her baby who has to go to sha’arey tzedek hospital for dialysis every other day.
At the Israeli gate, a father – with another baby who needs dialysis treatment – refused passage because his permit had expired on Saturday (yesterday) when all the offices are closed. Human rights’ activists were called into action from both sides of the CP. They telephoned to the IDF humanitarian centre, tried unsuccessfully to talk to the soldier in the booth and then negotiated with the guard. The last one gazed at the documents, took them and disappeared behind one of the doors- not before smiling at the sick baby who in his short life clearly got to know only soldiers, doctors and HR activists. The guard returned after about 30 minutes with a woman MP who let them pass and also reprimanded the negligent father.
At 08.00, when generally the CP is already empty, even on difficult days, the Israeli side
was full of people. Half an hour earlier one post had been closed and people were removed to other queues. After 20 minutes it was reopened and at 08.15 when pressure had decreased another post (the 6th) was opened.
We left the CP at 08.30 and went to DCL Ezyon.
DCL Ezyon: GSS-excluded people who need help arrive. All of them are convinced that they are victims of an error, as they believe they are blameless. They are sure that once this issue is clarified their problem with the GSS would be solved. Sylvia’s telephone is busy non stop with calls from those people.
A quiet and pleasant man, contractor, tells us that he has built a three-storied house in Elazar, an Israeli settlement. The owner of the house refuses to pay the cost of the changes in the original plan (ca. 70,000 IS). In order to evade the constructor’s claim he sued him for stealing a block of marble. Now the man has a conflict with the police and is police-excluded for several months. To people who tried to intervene, the Israeli said that he would remove his lawsuit only on condition that the constructor will cancel his demands. We gave the man a telephone number of a lawyer and also recommended that he contact first the organization “kav-la-oved”(line for the worker).
We leave home at 10.30. Sylvia’s telephone is still ringing...