Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 21.12.08, Morning
7:00 AM, Bethlehem terminal: many people outside, the reports are that things were orderly and more or less fast today. Five windows are open, the handprint machines are working and many people are turned back for mismatched handprints/magnetic card info. The EAPPI report 1750 people have crossed by 06:30. Our "reporter" from Bethlehem, Omar, reports that he waited in line from before 6:00 and he exited on the Israeli side at 07:20. By that time there were no more lines on the Bethlehem side and by 7:40 the workers have passed and the terminal is empty.
A woman from Bethlehem reported to us, with tears in her eyes, that on Thursday last week she had been beaten up by the men while waiting in line. She said she was all red and blue under her sweater. She urged us to ask for a separate line for women (and medical cases, we add).
8:30 AM, Etzion DCL: last week on Sunday the numbers were given out in the order of the Palestinian list prepared by the petitioners themselves. That seemed to calm down the people and gave them a sense of order being kept. Now again the numbers are given arbitrarily, altogether 85. Still not enough, and although the crowd is not so huge, many are left without a number. It transpires that those turned back at CP 300 for handprint failure (someone said there are 50), have received a number while they should have been admitted without one and before the others. After all, these are people with all their documents intact and they complain heavily. One worker complains that last week he lost three days of work because the DCO was closed and now he has to wait for hours just to renew his handprint and lose another day. He had to wait until 15:30, losing another day of work! All our calls to the officers inside are to no avail, although we did manage to state the case to H. who said he would look into it. We leave at 10:30.