Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Nabi Yunis, Wed 5.11.08, Morning
Those passing at Rachel Crossing and Etzion DCL suffer from hours of waiting, loss of work hours and denigrating attitudes by the persons administering the occupation mechanism.
Even though improvements have been made over the years, the number of metal detectors, of passageways and of soldiers is very limited and the question is whether the budget is the excuse for the situation or that there is prior motive to heap difficulties on the people and to make their life here miserable.
Bethlehem Checkpoint - The Rachel Crossing : At the main entrance to the checkpoint hundreds of people are massed together. The passage time is an hour-and -a half. The second opening in the fence is opened on special days only. On the rest of the days only one passage is used.
At this passage men and women are thrown together, sick persons and children. The slow pace in this line is due to the fact that the metal detection is done here. On site there are three detectors, but only 2 are in use. And when they get to the last row, then the passage is usually quick. In order not to burden the last stations, we get the impression that they release the people from the middle room one by one.
We contacted one of the volunteers from the ecumenical church and from him we received the information about what happens inside. They told us about a child who was detained for ten minutes without any reason. They contacted the humanitarian desk and the child continued on his way.
The security people pass along the rails, with their weapons. A female soldier regulates the flow by shouted orders, aware of her power, and the strength of her weapon.
8:00 AM, Etzion DCL: Some soldiers come outside to hand out numbers.
People who have been here yesterday and who have signed permits go in first. Those after them get additional numbers. It is not clear how this order is decided upon, according to a list prepared by the Palestinians, or by the quirks of the soldier. Together with the distribution of the numbers, an announcement was made that today only those in need of renewing their magnetic cards will get numbers. There was a large amount of people who needed magnetic cards, and nobody told them when magnetic cards will be distributed to new holders, and no reason for this or another arrangement was given. So they stand there and wait, maybe in the end they will distribute new magnetic cards, and if not, they will return tomorrow. This process is repeated daily.
Upon our inquiry we were told that the reason is the demand for cards is great and they first want to renew those whose validity is expiring. The enlightened occupation did not find a better solution for this problem than “go home and come tomorrow”. The number of machines for production of magnetic cards does not fulfill demand.
In the waiting room all the chairs were taken to the center, excluding those in the periphery. Today was a pleasant day, but the winter that is coming will require other solutions.