Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Tue 13.1.09, Afternoon
Etzion DCL : the place is almost empty, with one man waiting for the GSS, and another ten people waiting for magnetic cards, and finger-print renewal. Our request opens the turnstile and everyone goes inside. We can also see people leaving the DCL on the other side. In the waiting room we meet a man who has come to obtain permits to participate in an inter-faith religious conference in Hebron. The soldier at the window spoke to him (by means of the loudspeaker of course) and asked him to leave the waiting room, saying “ If my commander sees you waiting here he will put me in prison. We will contact you when the permits are ready and you can come to collect them”. We were amazed ! In answer to our question as to what is the meaning of this declaration – as everyone knows, we have been situated in the waiting-room for years – he said “you are from an organization, and that’s different !” What are we supposed to learn from this ? The answer “is in the eye of the beholder”.
Bethlehem Checkpoint : when we arrive there are only two inspection stations open. However, at 15.30 when the stream of people coming back from work starts to build-up, the policeman who has been circulating in the hall persuades the military-police commander to open three more stations. After the problem of a missing chair in one of the stations has been solved, the additional stations begin to operate and the passage of the Palestinians through the checkpoint is fast and smooth. The policeman allows some tourists who come from the direction of Bethlehem to pass through without an inspection and this ensures that the workers are not held-up. The finger-print inspection machine is out-of-order and many people are sent for renewal of their prints without any valid reason. It is important to advise people to whom this happens to try their luck at another inspection station – sometimes this prevents the loss of a day’s work and another journey to the DCL.