Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 10.11.08, Morning


07:15 AM, Checkpoint 300: five open positions, with a short line of six to eight people at each… everything seems quiet, but… the men passing by are fuming, spewing anger and very harsh remarks about events on the other side. They all say that transit today is particularly harsh. Drops from the shower that we got: a young woman returned from the inner gate, approaches us, very upset – since 05:30 she has been waiting. You should be there on the other (Palestinian) side, you know, we are human beings!! One man says that today is garbage, unfit for humans. A third tells us – it’s terrible, go see what’s happening there. Another one – words don’t help, the other side is horrible – don’t stand here!!This morning, two of our members were on the other side.Another man – this is the worst crossing. Outside a Palestinian told us: Israel, a glorious country, behaves to people… he didn’t complete the sentence.We phoned a number of times, and after half an hour we were told that it was beginning to move – but we were already moving on.

 08:00 AM, Etzion DCL: from the frying pan into the fire. Between 120-150 people waiting. At 08:20, an officer came out to them and asked who were the people returning after last week – scores of hands went up. He began to distribute numbers according to appearances of the men. The older received first. After that, ten women – half of the number in the room.  He came again with numbers and asked who needed to renew a magnetic card. Again many hands shot up, and there will still people left over from last week. – and he signed their papers so they would receive preference this week, though they were still without numbers. Finally, and without numbers, he let in a few that came to renew palm prints.  Altogether he distributed 60-70 numbers and there were still many crowding outside. Would he stamp their requests so they would have preference next week? No clear answer. When would there be new magnetic cards? No answer. What would holders of work permits who needed magnetic cards do if they didn’t enter? They were losing work days and meanwhile the validity of their permits was running out.

Nevuani ruled everything with a high hand, but there were no clear answers to many questions. He said that this was the third time that he was using the procedure of stamping papers for next week, and it was not clear that this would continue – because it caused pressures. And people came with the intention of getting a signature in order to return next week. He was giving out more numbers than the capacity of the DCL.

We moved on and returned to the DCL at 10:45. The same uproar that we had left two hours earlier. We phoned and repeated requests for answers. A soldier came out to the waiting room, made some order in the line, and let 20 men in, promising to let another 20 in quarter of an hour. The pressure dropped a little. They could see some progress. The same soldier came in ten minutes and stamped requests for next week for men who had not received a number. This was also some consolation, they said, in the hope that they would indeed be received next week.This impossible situation crops up every week. Clearly there is urgent need for a change in the manner of work of the DCL.
 As in every year, the colours of the season, the shedding of leaves of the grapevines as they changed from bright yellow to reddish brown coppery hues, magnificent in their beauty. 

Appendix to report:
A number of examples from the many at the DCL today:
Yusuf – changed address, sent back and forth between Etzion and Hebron. Today got his desire.
Nagib – came for the sixth time. Last week they stamped his request, was successful today.
Imad – third time, was stamped – received today and told that he was Shabak blacklisted.
Majid – third time, with stamp, renewed his magnetic card.
Fuad – third time, stamped – will come next week.
Daud – came to renew magnetic card, did not receive a number this morning, but entered anyway later, at 17:00 – came out at 18:20. Got a renewed magnetic card.

When he came out, people were still sitting there waiting to be received, all complaining bitterly that the list they put together is ignored. The Palestinians are very bitter, feeling hurt at the contempt with which they are treated.The DCL worked late today, for which they deserve thanks. But the organisation, the attitude to people, the arrangement of the line, the lack of seating – all still need urgent change and improvement.