Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 30.11.08, Afternoon

Yael R., L., Daniela G. (reporting)

15:15 PM, Etzion DCL: fewer cars in the parking lot than last week. Same goes for the waiting hall. Only about 20 people there, few of them with numbers, the others hoping they will still be let in anyway.  We try to persuade the soldier behind the turnstiles to see to it that even those without numbers will be attended to and he responds that it is up to his superiors. N., the officer in charge does not answer his cell phone, so that's of no help. We wait. In the meanwhile a good half hour goes by and not even those with numbers are allowed in. Someone coming out says there are about 10 people still inside, in line for the computers and actual service. Even those with numbers begin to worry. They've been there since the early hours of the morning. One of them beseeches us not to leave till they go through. At about 16:15 they do, and it looks like the rest, those without numbers, will go through as well. The soldier at the window behind the turnstiles was extremely cooperative, trying to get any of the officers to agree to let in people waiting long hours despite their not having been lucky enough to hold the much sought after tickets (numbers). We made him realize that the "rule" according to which the people who came to renew their magnetic cards have priority over those seeking totally new ones, places the latter to a great disadvantage, since they have to come in week after week only to be turned away. The logic that renewal of a magnetic card is less time consuming because it is an easier procedure combined with the allocation of a day for each and every village and district in the vicinity of Bethlehem, pushes the people needing a new magnetic card to the end of the line on the very day allocated to their place of residence, thus making it almost impossible for them to acquire what they keep coming for.


16:45 PM, Bethlehem Checkpoint: we make our way between the two lines of queuing which almost reaches the main street. 4 stations are operating. People go through quickly but not fast enough since workers keep pouring in and there are still long lines outside. A blue policeman comes out and a fifth station is opened. It takes a few more minutes and there are no more queues. Both the private guards and the blue policeman are cordial and communicative.