Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 2.11.08, Morning

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Ofra B., Sylvia P. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

06:30 Bethlehem Checkpoint:  While on route we call a Palestinian worker who sometimes phones to say that the situation is difficult. He says that he got to the checkpoint at 06:00 and since then nothing has moved. We call the Humanitarian Centre which promises to check.


07:00 - the exit hall is almost empty. Five positions are open. We again call our acquaintance and he says that in a moment he will be out, that shortly after we phoned they began to let people pass. We ask the passers by and some of them say that the situation is reasonable, others that the state of affairs is bad as usual. At one of the positions, they let people pass after they lay their magnetic cards on the surface of the machine that for many months has checked fingerprints. Today if the man is identical with the photo on the card - he passes. No demand to place his hand on the machine, and also no need to show his pass - saves a lot of time.


We did not encounter problems - no confiscations of permits. No denials of passage. We continued to  Etzion DCL.


07:55 AM, Etzion DCL:  We arrive a few minutes before opening of the hall. The women are standing in line close to the door. A lieutenant and a private come out for a first check of toilets, the hall and the allocation of numbers. At first numbers are given to the women. The men have prepared a list, but they are not prepared to consider it. The man holding the list begs them to use it - unsuccessfully. A man in his fifties approaches us. He says that he has cancer and is going for treatment at Augusta Victoria. He had a permit for six months of treatment. But they took it from him not long ago. Apparently they demanded that he gets a magnetic card. He asks us to help him get a number. We approach the distributor of the numbers and ask for his consideration. He asks the man for some kind of document, and after the man showed it, the officer gave him a number.


The men stood along the fence facing the waiting hall. The number distributor looks at the men and hands out numbers at random to older men. The criterion: grey gate. All this time the holder of the list begs that they take it into account. At the moment that the distributor turns to a lower age group, the list holder gets a number and enters the hall. The situation runs as follows: the people slowly approach the distributor to get a number. He stops and says “back off.” They back off a little - not enough... He doesn't distribute, turns his back on the men and waits. He turns to them. They haven't retreated enough. Ultimately - either he gives way, or they reach the imaginary line, and the distribution continues. And another stop. Everything pleasantly... The officer handing out the numbers is very polite. But the situation he created is all too humiliating....


Ultimately the numbers are given and a number of younger men remain without. To stay or leave? Will they give out more numbers? Nobody knows. A decision also will not be made quickly. It depends on the pace of work. But what's the difference. No importance attaches to the time of Palestinian residents...


A man who wants to update his fingerprint on a magnetic card, approaches us. He is from Hebron and has been many times to the DCO there, but they don't see him, don't let him in. So he has come to Etzion to try here. He approaches us and we phone the Humanitarian Centre. They say that he must go to DCO Hebron, but they will check. I tell the man that he must go to Hebron, but he is waiting for an employer who is coming to help. After a while I talk again to the Humanitarian Centre and now they say that he should go to Hebron, and if they don't let him in, he should phone them from there. I find that a digit is missing from the phone number that I wrote, so I can't inform the man. This morning they called from the Centre to say that the man was at DCO Hebron and the matter has been taken care of.


We are approached by many Shabak blacklisted men, and we explain that the way is open to try and remove the prohibition. Ephrat also filled in a number of forms.