Beit Ummar, Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Nabi Yunis, Mon 15.12.08, Morning
06:45 AM, Bethlehem Checkpoint : coming out from the checkpoint we meet angry, embittered men running to employers waiting outside.
Inside, three stations are functioning. For long minutes no one is at them. From time to time men arrivwe after inspection in the light rain, and then the stations are empty again. A fourth opens, but the women soldier sends all comers to the others.
We phone Edri, commander of the Jerusalem Envelope, and left him a description of the situation on the beeper.
The female soldier at one of the stations asks me over the Public Address (PA) if I am Jewish. Three men are waiting patiently for her. I tell her that these men are hurrying to work, and she should pass them.
Soldier: “And if I don’t feel like it?”
A soldier at the next position laughs, and says to me over the PA: “Yes, commander, two men are waiting! I want to know what you are writing in your notebook. Write that I want home!”
I: “And everything happening here is unimportant...”
The soldier, laughing: “Everything else is unimportant. Only home...”
A Palestinian waiting at the window tells the soldier with a bitter smile: “Laugh, We have already been waiting since 5 am.”
Now it is 07:15 and, apparently after Edri’s intervention, the four stations are finally functioning, more and more Palestinians are entering and the lines are growing.
The men come out angry and insulted. They waited a long time and only now are being taken in to the checkpoint at a faster rate. Now a DCL officer also appears, with serious face. The male soldier and the females are now processing people without the earlier hilarity, and even the security man who stood above and earlier contributed his remarks – is silent.
It must be assumed that Edri brought about the change. Apparently a few words from him did the trick. Again it needs to be asked why it doesn’t happen without intervention. After all our intervention is only incidental. Seems that the authorities have no urgent motivation to ensure full and fast work from the opening of the checkpoint at 05:00, so that three thousand labourers can get to work on time. Again, there are six computerised stations, and another six for window dressing, ready and numbered – and one day, when the Messiah comes, they will even put computers in them. And the Messiah is, as we know, on his way. We recall that, at Ramadan, we saw that it is possible to process many thousands through Bethlehem Checkpoint at a praiseworthy pace.
Again we ask – why don’t they activate this capability on a daily basis for the benefit of thousands of workers who leave home during the night to wait two hours at the checkpoint in order to work. We hear from some that they occasionally try through Wadi Nar, which is much further. Sometimes it is less crowded. But only sometimes...
07:30 AM, Hussan: we met a man who gave us papers to fet him registered with the police.
08:00 AM, Etzion DCL: in the Palestinian list, 66 people in line. There is also a small group of women, and some men sent back from Bethlehem Checkpoint to renew their palm prints.
In the concepts of this place, it is a reasonable size of crowd, and the DCL can service all today.
One of the “palm printers” tells us: “we work in building, and our palms change. Why don’t they place at the checkpoint the machine that stands in the DCL? Every few days we lose work days (and sometimes our jobs).”
Why don’t they put the palm print machine at the checkpoint? Probably because nobody cares that the Palestinians are given a runaround and lose work days and sometimes their jobs.
At 08:10, an officer appeared together with a soldier. The officer was Rami, and it must be said that he did not behave as an overlord, though as usual he gave no consideration to the Palestinian list, and the crowd advanced and retreated a few times till everyone was lined up behind the long low fence. The officer gave numbers to the women, then picked out the older men, followed by those coming to renew magnetic cards, the men behaving exceptionally well, and then all the rest.
A half an hour passed, 70 numbers were distributed, and then the distribution stopped. When we asked what would happen with the remaining 12 men, the officer phoned in to the DCL, and then handed out numbers to the rest.
09:00 AM, Beit Ummar: we took documents for registration. We met a man whose son, a few months ago, was killed by the security forces in their village. He and his other sons were immediately listed as Shabak prohibited.
09:30 AM, Nabi Yunis: we took and delivered papers.
10:15 Etzion DCL (again): we met four more men sent back from Bethlehem Checkpoint for palm prints. They arrived after the officer handed out numbers, and begged us to ask whether they would be seen today. There are also a few people who came late, and want to get magnetic cards. We talked to Hana Barag who phoned the DCL. They said they would accept everyone who was there, because the DCL s everywhere in the territory would be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Because they don’t publish notices on all the media, only people who come to the DCL actually know it is closed.