Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 18.8.08, Morning
Checkpoint No 60, Road No 60 to Beit Anoun, Etzion DCL
07.00 AM, Checkpoint 300 : There are four or five checking booths in operation intermittently. The Palestinians complain that there is great pressure outside, with long waiting times, but inside its quiet and relaxed because only a few people are allowed to enter at a time. We are told that yesterday, due to the great pressure, some people were injured; some say that there are today also but we didn't see any. There are six double booths , enabling at least twelve checking facilities, so why aren't more in operation ? The answer: only half the potential capacity is being used. Maybe the army will be able to find a budget to operate six more checking booths next year !
08.00 AM, Etzion DCL About eighty people are waiting for the DCL to open, they are under pressure and angry.
08.15 AM: An officer, accompanied by a soldier, goes down to the waiting people. The officer asks for the list of names that the Palestinians have prepared. They had already done this and had also made a copy to remain with them.
08.20 AM: All the people enter the waiting hall. It appears from the list that there are a hundred and twenty people. We continue on our way, and will return later.We continue to Beit Anoun; the only traffic-light on Road No 60 is not working. It isn't even blinking on and off, and on this fast road there are, as usual, laborers, women and a few children. What will happen next week when the school year starts ? The boys' school is on one side of the road and the girls' school on the other. It's frightening to think what might happen. Like every year, the grapes are ripening and there are many bunches hanging from the vines, juicy, beautiful and melting in one's mouth. What will happen to them this year ?
09.00 AM, Nebeh Yunis : People come to us with various problems : traffic violations in Israel, a long list of offences with very heavy fines. One person insists that he has already paid two of the fines on his list a long time ago, but he doesn't have any receipts. How can this be verified, and how to prove it ? I'll try to check.
10.30 AM, Etzion DCL: The waiting room is full. Half the chairs have been removed, leaving sitting room for only sixty. There are double that number there , so people sit on the floor or stand against the walls or outside. The hall is as steamy as a Turkish bath, and there is no air-conditioning, no fan, and no cold water. There is a bad atmosphere, and a feeling of anger. According to the list, only four people have entered up till now, plus another twelve women without a number. In the meantime, there is no progress. There is no soldier at the window opposite the entrance, there is no movement in or out, no-one knows when or if he will enter, and so on. When I phoned to find out what was happening a female soldier answered : I am not allowed to talk to anyone from MachsomWatch!
The Palestinians have many complaints. For example, Ali, from Bethlehem has been waiting since 05.00 hrs, his number is 31 on the list, this is the fourth time that he has come to the DCL. Shahib, from Bethlehem, arrived at 04.00 hrs, and he is still waiting, this is his third attempt at the DCL. Abed is here for the fourth time, he arrived at 05.00hrs, and is number 35. Halad, number 139, arrived late at 07.00hrs. Everyone who is not received today can try again only next week, because each day of the week is allocated to a different area. There is an atmosphere of despair and frustration, and they exude hatred towards the occupier.