Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 4.8.08, Afternoon

Orit Y., Ruth O. (reporting)

From 2:30 till 6:30 PM 
Etzion DCL and Bethlehem Checkpoint 300: In the waiting room of the DCL were about ten people, all waiting for a magnetic card. According to them no one had entered the ‘office’ during the last hour.
On the notice board was a new announcement from August 3rd (yesterday) stating that each day of the week is assigned to a specific area, like at the ‘Olive-DCL’. Today was for people from Bethlehem and indeed all those in the hall came from there. According to them this had only become clear to them when they arrived in the morning. Did people from other areas arrive and had to leave? We don’t know.
After we have been on the spot for about half an hour and the turnstiles did not move, we tried to call Tadesse, but could not reach him. An announcement over the loudspeaker that people should not wait any longer because they would not be dealt with today prompted us to talk to the soldier at the window. We asked him why he told people at 4:00 PM that they would not be serviced? “There are a lot of people inside and we won’t be able to handle them all today.” After a while he agreed to let them wait since they might be let in after all. We were glad we had talked to him; we explained to him that today was the day assigned to those from Bethlehem and if they were sent home this would mean they could not approach the DCL until next week. This softened him up a bit and indeed after a couple of minutes everyone was let in. And if we wouldn’t have been there?

A young man (Palestinian) who spoke Hebrew fluently told us that after he had been inside during five hours he received his magnetic card after he had been denied this precious card on security grounds for a couple of years. He has no idea why he had been refused all these years, or why he received it today. We asked him what he did inside for five hours and what goes on there. He told us that everything moves very slowly, they chat, they talk and do not really work. Despite the fact that once in a while Tadesse comes in (‘a good man’, according to him) and makes some attempts at discipline, this does not really help. That was also the way the soldier at the window acted when he wanted to stop all work way before the end of the day and only because we pressured him he was willing to let all those people in. They had been waiting for hours without able to complaining about the lack of service.

We drove in the direction of East Gush Etzion after having read the article in Haaretz by Nadav Shragai of July 29th about the latest area of contention, the Shadma Army Camp. At the entrance of the road leading to the camp is the well-know red sign which does not allow Israelis to enter. On the sign the settlers have scribbled thus erasing the original text and proclaiming: “Shadma, the Land of Israel belong to the People of Israel” (see attached photograph. On the other side of the road is an invitation to an evening “From Destruction to Redemption” which will take place on August 6th (according to ‘their’ calendar- see attached photo). It will be interesting to see whether the police or the army will actually carry out the warning on the red sign that whoever enters will be punished.

We also entered CP 300, which, as had been reported during the last month, look as if it runs smoothly. There were enough windows open and no long lines were formed. The drivers of the minibuses outside told us about the huge crowds in the morning on the Bethlehem side. They also said that despite the fact that we come all the time, we actually do not change the authenticity.