Beit Ummar, Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Nabi Yunis, Mon 1.12.08, Morning
06:50 Bethlehem Checkpoint: only four of the six positions open, and occasionally two or even three without customers! As usual, the transients are bitter about the crowding at the entrance where they have already waited two hours.
Inside the checkpoint, as usual in recent months, it is quiet with just few people.
As usual, we phoned Edri, commander of the Jerusalem Envelope, to complain that only four positions are open and that people are only allowed in as a trickle. As usual he is surprised to hear about the situation, and promises to deal with it.
It is noteworthy that there are 12 positions but, till today, they have not succeeded in getting six additional computers, so those six are never manned.
05:50 Etzion DCL: fewer people waiting for the DCO to open – roughly 80., so everything is on calm waters, of course with provocations by the officer, and acceptance by all the crowd. This time they all got numbers.
To sum up the behaviours of all the recent weeks in which we have been present (Mondays are the Bethlehem residents days), it can be said that the terrible crowding could have been avoided: coming to stand in line before dawn; desperate adherence to the list that the Palestinians draw up, though they are torn up and thrown in the garbage, or treated with contempt.
The scenes of humiliation, overlordship, bitter mumblings and insults could have been avoided.
All the uproar that persists for many weeks prevails because they give new magnetic cards, but at the same time they also renew cards already held for two years, for another two years.
The holders of cards needing renewal are in many cases the holders of work permits. So many people come time and again – only on Mondays – thereby losing work days, and often losing their jobs.
Throughout all the recent weeks, the number of people needing the service of the DCO was double or more the capacity of the DCO.
Entry into the line and receipt of a number is fateful. A man can lose his livelihood if he doesn’t push into the line. So all push, beg, shout and crowd, and the officers scream at them and curse them.
If the lords of the land had goodwill – this entire sight could be avoided.
For example –
To announce on all the Palestinian media that the validity of the magnetic cards that need renewal is automatically extended for a number of months, and only then do people need to come to the DCO. And/or to announce that cards which have expired will be extended automatically except for certain age groups.
It is possible to find many more ways to spread the public pressure over a longer period – if they so wish.
One does not need to be the wisest of men in order to come up with ideas.
As is known, many men are sent back from Bethlehem Checkpoint because their palmprint is not acceptable. Many of them are building labourers, and their palms change all the time.
Till today there has been no creative inspiration to place a machine for renewal of palmprints at the checkpoint. So the pressure on the DCL is immense, and we met men who came three or four times in order to renew the print, and were prevented from going to work for three or four weeks. Many employers do not wait, but take others in their place.
Men pay between 2-5000 shekels for the permit (seems that employers pass on to them the tax burden, and make use of the desperate pleas for work to become richer).
The work permit is usually valid for three mnonths. Sometimes a half of the pay for that period goes on covering the expense of the permit. So a man who cannot renew his palmprint for long weeks often not only loses his job, but is stuck with huge debts.
Men are still being sent back from Bethlehem Checkpoint to Etzion DCL. Though at present there is no great pressure at the DCL, and they will renew the print during a day, a workday has still been lost. Within a few days, the process can repeat itself as hands calloused by physical labour constantly change, and workdays are lost time and again.
09:00 AM, Beit Ummar: people complain that the soldiers are driving away taxis that stand at the entrance, next to the watchtower. These taxis pick up from Rte 60 those who come from Bethlehem and Hebron to enter the village. One youngster complained that a soldier slapped him while he was sitting in a taxi. Another man said that a few days ago soldiers entered his house at 01:00 (at night), turned the place upside down, took clothes and shoes (perhaps the undercover soldiers need authentic garb?), and other belongings. The man succeeded in writing down the number of the jeep and he wants to submit a complaint.
We referred him to Yoske and Hana Barag as “Yesh Din.”
09:30 AM, Nabi Yunis: we gave advice about the police to a number of people.
10:00 AM, again Etzion DCL: everything “okay.”
All that is “okay” and all that isn’t can be understood only as conscious or unconscious dehumanization of the Palestinians.