Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Wed 4.6.08, Afternoon
15:30 PM, Etzion DCL: The parking lot was full, more so than we remembered in a long time (but we hadn't been in a long time ...). Inside were about 2 dozen people, mostly seeking magnetic cards. Some claimed they had been waiting since morning. We cannot attest to that, but we can certainly attest that nothing whatsoever was moving. The soldier at the booth just inside wasn't there. Calling him yielded no results. Phone calls were also to no avail. The DCL number, publicized on the DCL walls, did not answer (despite promises made to the MW that it would be). Finally, the soldier appeared, and proceeded to smear himself on his wheeled chair, and talk on his cellphone. We called to him. He ignored us. When he acknowledged us, he said he was "not allowed to talk to us". Why is nobody let in, we asked nonetheless. "There are people inside". There weren't, said a lone one who emerged. More calls. Then the officer arrived. An Ethiopian lieutenant, who declared on the loudspeaker that he would not open the carousel, because the Palestinians were crowding against it. As if he wouldn't do the same under similar circumstances.
As if it matters -- it is in the waiting room, not near the soldiers, who are behind another set of turnstiles, that only let in exactly as many people as the soldiers want. As if the Palestinians, mostly old enough to be the soldiers' parents, were schoolchildren who needed to be educated and disciplined. As if there is a prohibition against standing at the turnstiles. As if the services offered at the DCL are reserved for those who "behave themselves". As if nobody cares how humiliating the situation is. Disgusting!
"You 3 over there, sitting on a bench, YOU can come in now -- those standing will not be allowed in", so the little officer. The Palestinians had more decency than him -- the 3 on the bench lined up with the rest, and did not heed the invitation to pass their brethern, before them in the line.
By the time we left, just before 5pm, all had ultimately been allowed to enter. The few who came for special permits (now handled by the Palestinian DCL, except off hour emergencies, as it apparently closes at
3pm) received what they came for. The magnetic cards were mostly denied.
GSS denied. Another routine day at the DCL.
17:20 PM, Bethlehem Checkpoint: 3 booths operating, 2 southbound, one for incoming pedestrians. The civilian guards were civil enough, basically ignoring us, and dealing quite matter-of-factly with the Palestinians, who scurried through with no mishaps. There was no buildup of a line at that hour.