Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 27.10.08, Afternoon
2:00 till 5:00 PM, Bethlehem CP300 and Etzion DCL: On the way we stopped at the taxi stand across the old entrance to El Khader to note that the construction has been halted and the tunnel under the road is partly blocked and CERTAINLY cannot be passed by car - the half-finished road will be one huge mud-pool once the rains start.
there were a few vans awaiting passengers and a truck was preparing to receive his `back-to-back' load and emptied its garbage on the spot where it wasn't noticed, there was plenty rubbish from before. We drove via Hussan (next to the now re-inhabited house many kids were waving at us) and Nachalin and saw that trees were being cut down (for fuel in winter?) in a forest near Gva'ot and that the road turned very good after the road turns into the Gush settlements.
From far away we saw the amount of cars parked at the DCL. Inside the many rows of black chairs had made room for a mere two rows along the wall (some black and some red), apparently the other chairs (poor quality) are broken.
Disgruntled men approached us with the stories of `unfair' treatment we have heard for weeks now. They had arrived before dawn made up a list, which had been torn by the `officer'. A group of twenty people from Beit Jalla who had not been dealt with yesterday were given preference. “They should have waited a week until Beit Jalla is being dealt with again.” Then a whole lot of women were let in, “They give their numbers to their husbands.” In the end only forty numbers were issued and already at 11:00 AM they were all told to leave the premises. Since then no new people were let in through the turnstiles.
Nebuani was called and confirmed the following: there had been 300 people in the morning. He had been out to the men three times in the course of the day urging them to go home, the first time at 11:00 AM. He said that there was no way he could accommodate more men and sounded offended when we suggested that he `honor' the list the men had made up themselves as if he didn't know how to do his job. Whatever additional complaints he voiced were met in the same tone that we shouldn't tell him how to run the office.
Meanwhile it is clear that since twice the office had been closed on the eves of the Succot festivals, those who had been for the third time were very reluctant to go home empty-handed. (People had come in vain, since there had been no prior notification of all the dates during the holidays the DCL would not be working).
A man who came for a hospital permit was let in. A sheikh in possession of a `number', who had been sent back to Hebron because his request had 50 Sh. worth of stamps in stead of 45 Sh. was finally let in despite the fact that we were told that no more magnetic cards would be issued as of 3:50 PM. “Why this limitation, if the office is open until 5:30?”
When the men saw that we could not be of any help, they left. An Arabic speaking girl soldier only allowed a worker whose magnetic card was torn and he could not pass the CP with it, to go in. He was the lucky one who had remained. Then a girl who needed her handprints renewed was also let in. Does one have to guess at what time to come?
The queue outside the Rachel Terminal almost reached the street. There were two neat lines leaving a passage for people entering Jerusalem and for us to inspect the terminal.
One tall security man was in charge of keeping the lines in order and counted the number of people he let in each time. It wasn't raining yet, although dark clouds looked ominous. Another security guard was in charge of security and stood inside the door with his rifle drawn. Four windows were open, two with and two without hand-machines. The lines at the ones with the machines obviously took more time and the workers therefore preferred the others. All in all the lines moved fast and the wait was not longer than ten minutes which must have seemed a lot after a long day's work. “We have no patience to stand in line anymore,” we heard all the time. The queue evaporated, but then of course another bus arrived with a new load. We gave and American Jewish peace activist a lift who said he was sorry we could not always be there.