Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Nuaman, Mon 25.8.08, Afternoon

Observers: 
Ruth O., D. (reporting) + distinguished guest: Yossi Y
Aug-25-2008
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Afternoon
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

 

Nuaman, Shdema, Etzion DCL and Rachel Passage. 
 1:00 PM-5:00 PM
Mazmoria Checkpoint: On the way from Har Homa to the Mazmoriya CP we noted that the new road is being widened and another two lanes are being constructed. We stopped near the pedestrian passage and were immediately told in no uncertain terms by the commander of the CP Yoav (with drawn rifle and protective vest), whom we remembered from a couple of years ago from CP 300 that we could not stay near the CP. We had intended to be in time for the children to return from school, but saw no sign of them at 1:15 PM. We drove into the village, but were phoned by our guest who awaited us at the CP. We decided to show him the village first, since we still saw no children, but meanwhile the commander almost had two of us arrested for driving on the roundabout in the wrong direction. He demanded the Id’s, but in the end allowed us to leave. There was no sign of any children until almost 2:00 PM and we assume they must have passed before 1:00. We heard from a villager that they are always harassed, their schoolbags turned inside out, etc.
We stopped at the entrance to Shdema, but didn’t dare enter; an army jeep drove in. 

Etzion DCL: The amount of people at the  DCL was slightly smaller than last week’s. Some people must have given up trying. The air-condition was working this week. We recognized some whom we had met last week.

Our guest who speaks Arabic fluently was appalled by the stories to which we have become accustomed. Some of those waiting had arrived at 2:00 AM in the morning and had started to prepare an orderly list of names. At some point during the morning an officer had come out and had decided randomly who would be allowed to enter. Until we arrived almost 30 women had gone inside and while we were at the DCL all women who came in were immediately served (and rather fast), but not one man. The men explained to us that if more than forty women without waiting were let in and no men, it causes the men to hate the ladies – and rightly so. We tried in vain to get hold of Tadesse. The girl at the window was acting as if she wanted to help, but could not move things. The soldier also didn’t want to cooperate. The frustration was worse than last week, since there seems to be no improvement whatsoever. Hanna B. could not be reached to ask her for help with the authorities.

On the way we noted again with some satisfaction that some skinny men managed to squeeze through the opening of the closed ‘humanitarian’ gate across Hussan.

 

Bethlehem - Rachel Passage:   The two straight lines of people waiting in the sun to return to Bethlehem after their day’s work outside the Rachel passage reached all the way to the street. We went in between the lines where a neat opening served the few tourists exiting from Bethlehem along the dense two lines. Near the entrance to the building the iron fence has been replaced by fences made of material we know as used for the ‘sleeves’ at other CP’s. This was clearly not installed to show the tourists. Only two windows were open. We asked the guard to have another window opened and he agreed to ask. Meanwhile he allowed the Palestinian workers to go through the first window, which had been kept only for the trickle of persons coming into Jerusalem. When suddenly there were four windows instead of only two, the line outside started moving and became less orderly. A colleague of the guard shouted orders to make sure everybody meekly waited in two orderly lines again – no one objected. The first guard, smoking a cigarette right next a non-smoking sign, directed the Palestinians to the resp. windows. A Palestinian who usually has permanent entry because of family unification, was not allowed in because of a police issue. He argued that his children are alone at home and that he has to go into Jerusalem to his home. He promised to proceed to the police in the morning. We did not await the end of the discussion. He was certainly able to plead his cause very eloquently