Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Tue 27.1.09, Afternoon
After we had met at 14:00 pm, we were driving first to the Bethlehem Checkpoint. There we found at 14:25 pm 7 claiments waiting, some outside in the sun, 4 inside in the waiting hall.
Etzion DCL: a young women , accompanied by a male relative, told us, that she is a teacher, at the time being teaching in Ramallah . She would like to move to Bethlehem, where her parents live, and start teaching in Jerusalem. She would be here claiming for a magnetic card. When she was called to the employee in charge he told her that today would not be a Bethlehem day. and send her home.
An elder farmer's couple was before the turnstile, the careworn and almost blind wife sitting on the floor. The husband had wholes in his shoes. His brother, a teacher, was accompanying them and translating for them.. He told us, that their poor house (no water, no electricity) near Hebron is going to be provided for building a settlement. Their case was about the demolition order. An Israeli - they did not know from which office- had told them that they could speak with a person called "Jossi". So did the soldier who after a while was calling them.
We went with them looking for "Jossi", found another polite and efficient soldier who after some phone calls found out that there was no "Jossi" at the DCL. He informed an Arabic speaking officer who was kind to the couple , explaining them that due to the letter they hold in hands they were invited to Bet El at February 12, at 11 o'clock. Two more Arabic speaking soldiers came. For a moment this helpless couple was surrounded by friendly Israelis who were treating them respectfully.
3 of the outside waiting men were telling me that they were already waiting since 7 am.
16:00 PM, Checkpoint Bethlehem: even the waiting hall was almost empty 4 counters (1,3,5 and 7) were already open and filled with soldiers. So when more public came in order to cross the checkpoint they easily found a not too crowded counter. Later we saw a bigger group of blue police and soldiers who were guided around. This might have been the reason for the generously opened counter.
A group of 16 American tourists could leave for Jerusalem by only showing their open passports in the direction of the soldier.
When we left at 16:45 pm there were short queues at the counters and 15 people waiting before the door.