Al Nashshash, Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Wed 11.6.08, Morning
06.30 Rachel’s Crossing: What we experience at the crossing can only be attributed to the coming of the Messiah, and miracles to the benefit of all those passing through the checkpoint today !
Very many Palestinians are already standing outside and waiting for their employers. Usually it is the vehicles that wait for the workers to pass through the crossing. The people greet us with broad smiles as if they also expect a miracle.
Inside the building, five checking booths are open. A few people are waiting for their turn in the queue, and only a trickle comes out of the interior room. The security guards congregate, relaxed and without work. They are not friendly to us but at least they don’t make sour faces at us. Two members of the Ecumenical movement approach us and add details of what is going on outside the exit. According to them, many people waited from an early hour for the checkpoint to open. It was opened at 05.00, and inside two inspection machines are operating as usual. The operators are efficient and fast. More than 1,000 people are reported to have passed through in 1 ½ hours.
I phone to the checkpoint commander - this time he answers his phone and says he is on his way to the checkpoint. I tell him about the situation in a positive tone. He is very pleased, and asks me to confirm that I will stress this in our report.
I have no single explanation for the phenomenon that we observed today, except that it results from organizational ability and good management of well-trained personnel, combined with an understanding of the benefits of decent behavior on one hand, and the damage caused by abusive and sneering treatment on the other. Of course our happiness isn’t complete, but as long as the crossing exists lets hope that the situation there will continue to be like it is today.
El Nashnash: We wait. The vehicle traffic is sparse; no-one needs our help.
Nebeh Yunis: A Palestinian applies to us for help about a traffic report. He needs to receive up-to-date vouchers because he will be late in paying. We instruct him to report directly to the policemen at the Etzion or Hebron DCL. We told him that he should only go to those places after phoning first in order to check their opening hours.
Etzion DCL: If Rachel’s Crossing was a positive experience, here the picture is just the opposite. There are about 150 people waiting. Some of them have come in order to up-date their magnetic cards. Some have come to receive cards because according to rumor, everyone can receive one. Many others complain that they are on the GSS-denied list and they are not told the reason. Many Palestinians have come to up-date their finger-prints. One of the people says that on the previous day he received the number 70, and returned home in the evening empty-handed. Today he is trying again, it is 09.30 and he doesn’t know when he will be able to enter.
We speak to the DCL commander who is on his way there. He tells us that he is short of electronic equipment, and there is no solution to the problem. He will check if it is possible to speed-up the reception of the waiting people.