Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Thu 29.1.09, Afternoon

Orit Y., Ruth O. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

 13:30-16:30 PM, Etzion DCL:  in the waiting room of the DCL were abut fifteen men, of whom only one spoke Hebrew. He told us that the Security Service had invited most of those present for an interview.  The man who spoke Hebrew told us that he had come with his son, who had been summoned in the middle of the night in order to present himself early in the morning. In addition to his son, a student at the Hebron College, there were another four youngsters like him. The description of how they were summoned was shattering: soldiers arrive between 1:00 and 3:00 AM and pounce loudly on the door. If the door is not opened immediately they break a window and shine with blinding torch lights into to house while wakening all the neighbors with their shouting. They leave a note with the invitation and go away. No one knows why and for what purpose.

Very often when the person arrives on time, he had to wait until the end of the working day in the DCL only to be told to return the following day or week. Also if the man after a day’s waiting is asked to come inside for the ‘long-awaited’ interview all that happens is that he is asked unimportant questions such as what his telephone number is. Another man told us that when the soldiers came to his house in the middle of the night his son was not home. The soldiers told him that he himself had to come with another son in addition to the one that had been summoned. The three of them spent the entire day waiting in the DCL, despite the fact that they knew that the Security people were only interested in the one son. It should be noted that as opposed to the previous weeks, the soldier at the turnstiles didn’t know Arabic and was totally unable to converse with the people in the waiting room. A young woman who spoke English was sitting on the side with her father. When we asked her why she had come, she told us that she needed a permit to enter Jerusalem for an interview at the American consulate for a visa. She had handed in her papers and after some time she was told to go home and return the next day. She didn’t know what to do, since the interview at the Consulate had been scheduled for the next day and of course she could not be at both places at the same time. We were shocked to hear that she had to return the next day, since we knew that on Fridays the DCL is closed! We called the officer on duty and explained the situation to him and indeed the lady was called in, but returned immediately. In her hands was the form ofher request on which was scribbled in handwriting “permitted” without any stamp. We called the officer again to ask what this meant and why she had not been given a proper permit and when she came out again she told us that she had been told to bring a letter from the consulate.

And yet again we ask ourselves, why? Why cannot they be spared all these hours of waiting? Why is it impossible to provide trustworthy information? And if we hadn’t happened to be there, she would have returned on Friday to a closed office?

A well-educated man who spoke a fluent English was waiting for a friend inside the DCL. He intrduced himself as an economist who had completed his third degree in Canada, He had returned to Hebron to teach at the university there. His anger and hate towards Israel were frightening.
It was 4:00 PM all those invited by the Security were still waiting. We left and took the English speaking woman and her father to their village, east of Efrat.